One of the useful measurables for school speech-language practitioners is their self-perception of confidence, knowledge, and need for support for working with school-age students who stutter. A team of researchers at Vanderbilt and Grand Valley State Universities conducted a survey of these things recently (Kelly EM, et al., Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2020 Oct 2;51(4):1156-1171. doi: 10.1044/2020_LSHSS-20-00028).
They tallied responses from 120 working professionals in 27 school districts in Tennessee, with a 35-item data-collection instrument on caseloads, coursework, continuing education experience, and perceived levels of skill and confidence in service provision. They also rated perceived need for consultation with other speech-language pathologists who specialize in stuttering.
Relative to their felt competence overall, respondents were least confident in theory, assessment, and intervention for stuttering disorders, whether the problem presented alone or with concomitant communication concerns. Practitioner confidence in stuttering intervention positively correlated with the number of students in their caseloads, and with continuing education credits in stuttering, and knowledge of stuttering theory, assessment, and intervention. Those who had completed a graduate course on stuttering, unsurprisingly, had greater confidence.
The study concluded with a recommendation that school speech-language practitioners be given additional education, practice opportunities, and support, especially with intervention, in stuttering. These needs could be addressed through increased availability of specialists in stuttering, or opportunities for school-based practitioners to become peer mentors, or provision of readily available, intervention-focused continuing education experiences and resources.
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