I almost did not become a speech-language pathologist. Near the end of my undergraduate degree, I became discouraged by my field of study, which up until that point, focused exclusively on theoretical concepts and principles. However, in my final semester, my clinical methods instructor helped me to understand the connection between the theories I had been learning and their application in treatment. I fell in love with clinical work, especially the moment the client experiences a breakthrough in their treatment. As a teacher, I love to see this same moment of discovery when my students use the concepts they have learned to find solutions to their questions. I love the subjects I teach, and I hope my motivation will stimulate my students' engagement with the course material. When students leave my class, beyond their understanding of course content, I hope they will leave with a sense of curiosity to want to know more. To this end, in both my online and face-to-face courses, I have implemented the following evidence-based teaching strategies from the research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

    Prior Knowledge: According to Brown et al. (2014), all new learning requires a connection to prior learning and experiences.

    Didactic and Clinical Settings: At the beginning of each semester, I use Google Jamboard, a shared digital whiteboard, to have the students retrieve as many concepts as possible from previous courses or life experiences that may be relevant to a central theme of the current course or clinical focus. I use this activity to reinforce accurate connections and to reteach inaccurate connections the students might make. In this way, I can identify gaps in their knowledge and address these early in the semester.

    Growth Mindset: According to Dweck (2006) and Eyler (2018), it is important to approach learning with a growth mindset. When students understand that making mistakes and learning from them is part of the learning process, they can reduce the stress they feel about potential
    failure, thus freeing their working memory to focus on the concepts they are learning.

    Didactic and Clinical Settings: As an instructor and clinical educator, it is important that I establish a safe environment that can address mistakes and use them as a learning opportunity to strengthen the student’s future performance. I model this mindset by sharing growth opportunities I have experienced. I can also coach students who have experienced setbacks and help them identify opportunities for growth.

    Targeted Feedback: Ambrose et al. (2010) discuss the importance of practice and targeted feedback to allow students to continuously improve their knowledge and skills.

    Didactic Settings:

    I use small-stakes course deliverables, such as quizzes and assignments, to introduce multiple practice opportunities and to gauge my students’ learning several times during the semester. With this approach, I can identify and address any gaps in their knowledge as soon as

    I use Google Forms to elicit anonymous 1-minute responses at the end of each class session to help me identify possible gaps in the students’ knowledge. A typical prompt is: “What was the trickiest point from this week’s material?” I address the students’ responses in the following session, allowing me to close knowledge gaps from the previous week.


    Clinical Settings: I use OneNote to give my students consistent written feedback after each session. The feedback form is modeled on the grading rubric I will use to determine their grade at the end of the semester. This helps them to target potential weaknesses and identify areas of strength.

    Peer Learning: According to Ambrose et al. (2010), peer learning provides students with opportunities to discuss learning strategies and practice new techniques to encode and consolidate information.

    Didactic Settings: I incorporate group work in each weekly class session so that students can practice new concepts and learn strategies from one another.

    Clinical Settings: At least once each semester, during team meetings, students present a question about a current clinical case, and their classmate’s problem-solve possible solutions. The Clinic Director and I created the Clinical Mentor Program to give second-year clinicians an

    opportunity to mentor first-year clinicians during the early part of the fall semester. Because the clinical mentors have a very recent memory of their experience as new clinicians, they are well suited to teach the first-year clinicians the strategies they found helpful in their first
    clinical year.


    Self-Reflection: According to Ambrose et al. (2010), students must complete the Cycle of Self-Directed Learning to become effective learners. An important part of this cycle is self-reflection at the end of a task. By regularly reflecting on whether a task was successful or not, students are able to identify components that worked well and those that didn’t work as planned. Through this process of self-reflection, students can continue to build their knowledge and skills.

    Clinical Settings: During weekly debriefs, graduate clinicians practice the routine of self-reflection. This routine assists them in reflecting on their clinical skill development in preparation for their midterm and final conferences and in their future roles as speech-language

    Cultural Responsiveness: According to Hopf et al. (2021), speech-language pathologists can best support increased diversity in the profession by developing a mindset of cultural responsiveness. By adopting an attitude of self-reflection and continuous learning, we can better support our clients and the students in our training programs.

    Didactic and Clinical Settings: It is important that I model an attitude of cultural responsiveness and an awareness of the biases and identities that I bring to the learning environment. My experiences as an expatriate in multiple countries and as a resident of one of the most diverse cities in the country have taught me to value the knowledge and practices that are brought to learning by students from a multitude of backgrounds.

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    Sample Course Schedule



    This is an activity where I pair undergraduate students together in my Phonetics course. My purpose is to have the students apply their knowledge of phonetic transcription in connected speech. I have added a reflection portion to stimulate the students’ critical thinking regarding differences in transcription they might have with their partner and how that might affect diagnosis and treatment.


    Learning Objective: The students will demonstrate the application of the broad and narrow transcription conventions. They will compare their transcription to their partners and make a hypothesis regarding how that might affect the diagnosis and treatment of the client.


    Activity Set-up: The students will work in pairs for this activity. Each pair will transcribe a speech sample from the same video chosen online; however, they will do this portion separately. Upon completion, the students will compare their transcriptions to their partners and answer the following questions:

    1. Did you and your partner's transcriptions match for the most part?
    2. If there were differences, did you notice a pattern?
    3. Why do you think you might have chosen different symbols?
    4. How might this affect this child's diagnosis and treatment?

    Submission Format: The transcriptions and reflections will be submitted to the Learning Management System (LMS). The transcription portion will need to be in a word document or PDF, but the reflection portion can be written or via audio file.


    Peer Review/Discussion: When these are completed, the students will meet with their partner again to discuss the differences in the transcriptions to determine if any changes need to be made.


    Grading Expectations: I will grade the transcriptions broadly. Most of the focus will be on the reflection portion of the assignment in order to help the clinicians begin to think critically about speech sound disorders.


    This activity is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of language development within various cultural and linguistic populations. Because of the specific format of the assignment, students will need to identify the most pertinent information and communicate it in a professional environment.


    Learning Objective: The students will demonstrate their understanding of the five components of language within a cultural or linguistic population of their choice. By creating this infographic and sharing it with their peers, the students will have a rich resource that can be used to help them to differentiate language differences vs language disorders when making clinical decisions as Speech-Language Pathologists.


    Activity Set-up: The students will create an infographic that will be aimed toward an audience of Speech-Language Pathologists. This infographic will cover the five components of language within the student's chosen cultural or linguistic population. The student will summarize the origins of their chosen population and then will compare and contrast the similarities and differences between their focus and Standard American English.


    Submission Format: The assignment will be submitted as an Infographic to the Learning Management System and then added to a shared Discussion Board that will be accessible to the entire class.


    Peer Review/Discussion: The students will review each other's work and be responsible for commenting and/or asking a question on at least 3 of their classmates' submissions.


    Reflection: The students will reflect on their choice in their reflection journals, discussing their own performance, one other student’s performance they admired, and any improvements they would like to make.


    Grading Expectations: I will grade the submissions on content, professional language, and presentation. I will grade broadly on the comments and reflections to encourage engagement with these portions.


    from students at Curtin University and The University of Houston

    University of Houston, clinical graduate student

    • "Dr. Schaff gave great suggestions when I was in need of assistance. She was always available and understanding when issues occurred. She was always providing resources that could help my client. She is a remarkable CE and I feel grateful to have her this semester. Thank you Dr. Schaff for all your knowledge and kindness."

    University of Houston, Phonetics undergraduate student

    • "Her knowledge and passion for the course show through her teaching. She is also very kind and does her best to make sure her students not only understand the material but succeed in the class as well."

    University of Houston, Language Development undergraduate student

    • "She always keeps us up to date on research being put out. She will even share online resources for SLPs. She answered any questions the student had. If questions or confusion about a topic came up and if she didn’t know or wanted to clarify it for us she would get back to us, review it next class period or send out an announcement on Blackboard which further explained the questions. She gave out very useful assignments. For example, we made infographics on different topics, and after submitting we had a folder to share our topics with the rest of the class and we can save them and use them as a handy file for the future. My favorite one was the language dialects, these infographics can be made into a file folder for future reference. It is important for speech-language therapists to understand where a child or person comes from before diagnosing with a language disorder."

    Curtin University, First Clinical Year student

    • “Allyson was extremely supportive and really prompted us to use our own clinical thinking to decide on what assessments/therapy approaches etc to use instead of simply giving us the answer. At the time- you really just want someone to give you the answer, but in the long run, you realize that by not being given all the answers, you have developed the ability to plan and rationalize, and critically reflect yourself, which is what we will be expected to do next year and in future years as clinicians.”

    Curtin University, Second Clinical Year student and Mentor to First Clinical Year students

    • “The CE was amazing. Supportive and had very good teaching methods. Very generous in giving advice and even clinical opportunities outside of placement. Appreciated that I was given a lot of independence and opportunities to take the lead in discussions/debriefs with First Clinical Year students. I was also able to take on an individual client. Extra learning opportunities were valuable.”