Using Students’ Own Mobile Technologies to Support Clinical Competency Development in Speech Pathology

Using Students’ Own Mobile Technologies to Support Clinical Competency Development in Speech Pathology

Trish Andrews (The University of Queensland, Australia), Bronwyn Davidson (The University of Queensland, Australia), Anne Hill (The University of Queensland, Australia), Danielle Sloane (The University of Queensland, Australia) and Lynn Woodhouse (The University of Queensland, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-511-7.ch014


The need to adequately prepare students for the workplace competencies of a health professional in the 21st century demands exploration of alternative learning opportunities. Two such examples are the appropriation of mobile technologies and the use of standardised patients to support clinical learning. This chapter will discuss the appropriation of students’ own mobile devices to support the development of clinical competency for speech pathology students in a standardised patient clinic. The chapter includes descriptions of a project that focussed on the role of mobile technologies in supporting learning across different contexts. The results indicated that the use of mobile technologies in a clinical practice setting can make a positive contribution to clinical competency development. Issues for future integration of mobile technologies in clinical practice are raised.
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This chapter describes and reports on a project that explored the use of students’ own mobile technologies to support clinical learning and competency development within a clinical module. This module uses standardised patients who are actors or real patients, carefully trained by professional staff to enact the role of a patient according to prescribed educational goals and specific skill development requirements (Barrows, 1971). In particular the chapter focuses on:

  • The importance of competency development in clinical practice including an outline of the challenges and barriers faced in developing clinical competencies

  • An outline of standardised patient clinics and their role in workplace learning and practice education

  • A discussion of ‘mobility’ in learning and how this can be enabled through the use of mobile devices

  • An outline of the use of mobile learning to support learning across different contexts

  • A discussion of applications of students’ own mobile technologies to support teaching and learning activities

  • A detailed description of the project phases

  • A discussion of the project outcomes and implications for mobile learning in relation to practice and workplace learning

  • Implications for future developments in the appropriation of mobile technologies in clinical practice.


Competency Development

Developing competency for professional practice is critical for students in the health sciences. Professional competency is the ability to perform the required tasks of a designated profession to an appropriate standard as determined by that profession. Competency and the capacity to integrate effective reasoning within a professional domain develops gradually. Higgs and Titchen (2000) suggest it is the result of interaction of a complex mixture of propositional knowledge, professional skills or wisdom and personal knowledge and attitudes. Undergraduate and professional Masters tertiary programs provide opportunities for students to develop competency, in particular knowledge and skills, through academic curricula with a strong foundation in case-based learning. Knowledge can be tangibly measured through assessment in academic courses, while professional skills and attributes are less readily assessed in such situations and hence often inferred. It is also acknowledged that knowledge learnt in academic environments is not always easily transferred to competent practice in the workplace. Clinical placements (variously called ‘clinical practicum’ or ‘fieldwork placements’) allow for more concrete observation of all aspects of competency, and provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their integration of knowledge, skills and professional attributes in their work with clients. Such placements occur in many health professional programs such as physiotherapy, dietetics, pharmacy, occupational therapy and speech pathology.

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