Original Research

Students’ experiences of using a writing-intense programme to facilitate critical thinking skills on an online clinical training platform: A pilot study

Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Anniah Mupawose
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 2 | a919 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i2.919 | © 2022 Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Anniah Mupawose | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 February 2022 | Published: 22 August 2022

About the author(s)

Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Anniah Mupawose, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the subsequent lockdown altered traditional clinical training for speech language pathology students, thus forcing training institutions to implement innovative and responsive clinical training strategies in the midst of the pandemic. As such, a writing-intense programme was piloted in an online clinical training programme with second-year speech language pathology students.

Objectives: This study explored speech language pathology students’ experiences with a writing programme used during an online clinical training programme implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Method: The study used a qualitative survey design. Purposive convenient sampling was used to recruit 29 second-year speech language pathology students. Online student reflections guided by 10 open-ended questions were used to elicit responses from students. Data were analysed using deductive thematic analysis.

Results: Findings revealed that the written component of the programme facilitated the acquisition of clinical knowledge and improved clinical processes of writing among students. Feedback that students received on their written tasks improved learning. The clinical component of the course enabled students to learn in a less stressful environment and helped them gain confidence in their knowledge and clinical skills. Connectivity challenges and the lack of motivation from some students negatively impacted the programme.

Conclusion: Using a writing programme to clinically train students can have positive effects in applying theory to clinical application because it affords students time to consolidate and process theory with practice as the jump from first year to second year can be cognitively taxing. A writing-intense programme can also improve students’ writing skills.


Keywords

COVID-19; speech pathology; online clinical training; writing intensive; students

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