Students’ and Educators’ Perceptions of Competency-based Assessments in Communication Sciences and Disorders Education in Canada

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Colonne Appuhamilage, Uvini
Competency-based assessments , Clinical competence , Audiology students , Students' perception , Educators' perception , Communication sciences and disorders education , Speech-language pathology students
Educational institutions offering Communication Sciences and Disorders programs aim to equip students with essential knowledge and skills required to become competent audiologists and speech-language pathologists, capable of meeting the demands of these rapidly evolving professions. Competency-based assessments (CBAs) play a crucial role in evaluating students' readiness by measuring their achievements against industry standards. Thus, the purpose of this study is to identify the CBAs used in Communication Sciences and Disorders education programs and to investigate the perceptions of both students and educators’ regarding the current practice of CBAs. A descriptive cross-sectional design was employed, using two parallel online surveys that consisted of scaled and open-ended questions to collect data independently from 44 students and 16 educators. The present study confirms that many Canadian universities employ some form of programmatic assessment approach, which involves using a combination of various low-stakes CBAs over time to determine students’ clinical competence. Many of these assessments are conducted in real clinical settings to evaluate performance in practice, rather than assessments conducted to evaluate the demonstration of learning in a controlled clinical environment. Among them direct observations by clinical educators are the most popular and preferred method of assessment by many students and educators. Both students and educators felt that the current CBA practices are well-organized, effective in achieving their purposes and maintain good quality. Given the crucial role of CBAs in evaluating students' clinical competence, the insights provided by this study are essential for further enhancing the effectiveness of CBA systems. Such improvements can lead to accurate measurement of student outcomes in clinical practice against regulatory competencies and contribute to the continued advancement of the audiology and speech-language pathology professions.
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