By Kate Hunger
Speech-language pathology students benefit from receiving intentional training to serve diverse populations early on in their graduate school careers, according to an article authored by Communication Sciences and Disorders Assistant Professor Casey Taliancich-Klinger, PhD, CCC-SLP, that published in the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.
Published in November, the article, "Engaging Graduate Students in Cultural Experiences Early: The Development, Implementation, and Preliminary Student Perceptions of a Community Engagement Clinical Experience,” describes a pilot program in which speech-language pathology graduate students were given cultural responsiveness training in order to prepare them to provide hearing, speech and language screenings and small group language enrichment to children in English and Spanish. The article appears in a special issue of the journal dedicated to diversifying the workforce in communication sciences and disorders.
“We were trying to teach students to recognize that children who come from diverse environments and lower socioeconomic status don’t inherently have lower language skills,” Dr. Taliancich-Klinger said. “We provided cultural responsiveness training as part of the program.”
The two-year pilot program included about 80 Spanish-English bilingual children between the ages of 4 and 9 years old and 52 first-year speech-language pathology graduate students from Our Lady of the Lake University, where article co-authors Naomi Arcos-Hernandez, MA, CCC-SLP, and Alycia Maurer, PhD, are on faculty. The graduate students provided positive reflections about their experiences in the program, and the article authors conclude that training therapists early on culturally responsive care is essential. The authors call for additional research to design the most effective program for this purpose.
“We are trying to establish a similar type of program with our community outreach here at UT Health San Antonio,” Dr. Taliancich-Klinger said. “This article is very much a precursor, setting the stage for the work that Dr. Angela Kennedy and I are setting up here.”
The clinical experience pilot program was funded by a Texas Title 1 Priority Schools grant awarded by the Texas Education Agency to the San Antonio Independent School District.