Aphasia teaching by the experts: A collaborative approach to undergraduate education




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British Aphasiology Society



Peer reviewed



Background information DMU4 is a once monthly conversation group for people with aphasia (PWA). It started in 2008 and is part of the Aphasia Leicester Group, an organisation created and run by PWA. The main purpose of the DMU4 conversation group is to give PWA an opportunity to meet and practise talking. Since October 2009 the group has provided teaching for second year Speech and Language Therapy students. Theoretical teaching is provided alongside the DMU4 learning experience to encourage students to link theory to practice. The conversation group learning opportunity also responds to clinical teacher feedback from student feedback that suggested that second year students would benefit from more confidence and greater skill in talking to PWA.

Student training Although DMU4 is not directly modelled on the conversational partner scheme outlined by McVicker, Parr, Pound and Duchan (2007), the conversation group has adapted elements of the CONNECT training programmes to suit undergraduate conversation training. Before the group students are asked to prepare themselves by reading one of three noteworthy conversation based resources: Kagan & Gailey (1993), Kagan (1998) & Simmons-Mackie (1998). In a lecturer led pre group tutorial students are asked to discuss these papers and also discuss their perceptions about: their role in the group, how to start a conversation with a PWA, how to synthesise theory with practice and how to design an aphasia friendly feedback sheet. Students then participate in a two hour conversation group. In the first hour students experience talking to a PWA. At the end of the hour the students receive feedback from their conversational partner using the aphasia friendly feedback sheet created in the pre group tutorial. After coffee the students have a new conversation with different conversational partner and at the end of this hour the students receive feedback from their new partner. At the end of the group students are asked to evaluate the DMU4 learning experience and reflect on what they have learnt in a post group tutorial led by a PWA.

Teaching evaluation Quantitative module evaluation has suggested that students think that the DMU4 experience is valuable. Qualitative module evaluation also suggested that students have benefiited from the experience as they reported gains in theoretical understanding (understanding of aphasia), gains in skill levels (increased ablity to use multi modality communication and increased ability to know how to adapt their level of language) and gains in clinical confidence.

References KAGAN, A. & GAILEY, G. (1993) Functional is not enough: Training conversation partners for aphasic adults. In A. Holland & M. Forbes (Eds.) Aphasia Treatment: World Perspectives. San Diego: Singular Press. KAGAN, A. (1998). Supported conversation for adults with aphasia: Methods and resources for training conversation partners. Aphasiology, 12, 9, 816-830. McVICKER, S., PARR, S., POUND, C. & DUCHAN, J. (2007) The communication partner scheme: a project to develop long term, low cost access to conversation for people living with aphasia. Aphasiology, 23, 1, 52-71. SIMMONS MACKIE, N. (1998) Communiciation strategies used by “good” vs “poor” speaking partners of individuals with aphasia. Aphasiology, 12, 9, 831-838.



Aphasia, teaching, DMU4


Bixley, M. and DMU4 Conversation group Aphasia Leicester (2011) Aphasia teaching by the experts: A collaborative approach to undergraduate education. British Aphasiology Society Biennial International Conference Book of Abstracts, 10. Poster.


Research Institute

Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research