Building a diverse speech pathology workforce in the 21st century classroom: Lessons from a blended online Master of Speech Pathology

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: Changes in the higher education landscape, accelerated by COVID-19, have resulted in an increase in online health education globally. A blended online Master of Speech Pathology commenced in Australia in 2014, making speech pathology training available across geographic and social boundaries.
Aims: To understand the ‘online speech pathology student’, this project investigated:
• Who are the students undertaking the blended online course?
• What influenced the students to study speech pathology online?
• How do students describe the experience of online learning?
• Where do students plan to work in their future career?
Method: A mixed methods online survey was distributed to students of a blended online Master of Speech Pathology. Descriptive statistics was applied to numeric data (n=44), along with inferential statistics to explore relationships between factors. Content analysis was applied to qualitative data.
Results: A ‘typical’ student was a 30-49 yo female (n=39), with 45.46% (n=20) living in a major city. Without the blended online option, 74.99% of participants (n=33) would not have studied speech pathology. Fit to family, work and lifestyle were key reasons for seeking an online course. Of those who reported their ideal work location (n=41), 82.92% indicated a preference for working within 50km of home, with 53.66% preferring to work in regional, rural or remote locations
Conclusion: This study highlights the role of online speech pathology education in reducing barriers to studying speech pathology and in providing a diverse workforce that is helping address issues of access and equity in service delivery across Australia.


ConferenceSpeech Pathology Australia National Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleLocal contexts, global practice
OtherEach year Speech Pathology Australia conducts a National Conference for the benefit of its members and the speech pathology profession. The event provides delegates with a prime opportunity to update their knowledge and skills, while building networks to enable them to remain leaders in a competitive field. On this page are the programs for previous conferences.
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