Writing Plan Phases
  • phase completed
  • phase in-progress

The Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences (SLHS), in the College of Liberal Arts offers internationally-recognized programs in speech-language-hearing sciences, audiology, and speech-language pathology that provide outstanding opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to pursue rewarding and meaningful careers.

Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences Writing Plan

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Writing in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

Noticeable features of academic and professional communication in the SLHS field include the following:  

Precision and clarity in conveying complex concepts and information. This involves using accurate terminology, defining key terms, and presenting ideas in a concise and understandable manner.

An emphasis on evidence-based practice. Academic and professional communication in SLHS emphasizes the use of empirical research, scholarly literature, and clinical evidence to support arguments,  theories, and interventions. In written communication, SLHS scholars and professionals demonstrate critical evaluation of the available evidence and the ability to synthesize information effectively.

Professional tone, adherence to ethical guidelines, and a commitment to accommodating individual differences and tailoring interventions or recommendations to meet specific needs. This includes respecting confidentiality and privacy, maintaining objectivity, and demonstrating linguistic and cultural sensitivity and responsiveness when discussing individuals with communication disorders or diverse backgrounds. Linguistic sensitivity involves recognizing and respecting the linguistic diversity and challenges that individuals may face, which includes being aware of language differences, dialectal variations, and bilingual/multilingual considerations. Linguistic sensitivity also involves adapting communication strategies and materials to meet the linguistic needs of individuals, such as using plain language, providing appropriate translations or interpreters, and utilizing culturally appropriate assessment tools.

Interdisciplinary collaboration with professionals from related fields, such as psychology, education, medicine, and allied health. Academic and professional communication in SLHS should be able to bridge the gap between disciplines, fostering effective collaboration and understanding. This may involve adapting communication style and terminology to ensure clarity and facilitate interdisciplinary discussions. SLHS professionals should be open to new information, research findings, and advancements in the related fields. This flexibility allows for continuous learning and growth, updating clinical practices, and adapting communication approaches as needed. It also involves being receptive to feedback from clients, colleagues, and interdisciplinary team members to improve communication effectiveness. 

Messages adapted to a variety of audiences, including clients, families, colleagues, educators, and policymakers. This may involve using plain language when communicating with clients and families or using technical terminology when communicating with colleagues and researchers.

Conformity to specific writing styles and conventions, such as APA (American Psychological Association) style. It is essential to adhere to these conventions to ensure consistency, clarity, and credibility in scholarly writing, research papers, lab reports, clinical reports, and professional documents.

Menu of Grading Criteria Used in Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences Courses

The SLHS faculty generated the following menu of criteria, based on the list of writing abilities members prioritize in working with student writers in their courses. One major challenge for faculty/instructors is to adapt and tailor these criteria based on their specific instructional objectives and assignment requirements. Regular communication and feedback between faculty and students can help address any concerns and ensure that grading practices align with the desired writing abilities and goals of the SLHS program.

SLHS Writing AbilitiesSLHS Grading Criteria (with explanatory comments)
1. Intentionally and sensitively address specific readers.1.1 Conveys real-world problems in ways that pique reader interest.Provide examples of real-world problems and persuade readers of their importance.
1.2 Interprets technical data and findings in ways that can be understood by non-technical audiences.

Explain the meaning of the data using words that a high school graduate would understand.

Explain the meaning of the data using words that a (cross-professional) clinical colleague would understand.

1.3 Interprets data using accurate field-specific terminology.When writing about a particular population or group, use terminology that the community uses to describe themselves or terms that the group prefers.
1.4 Demonstrates cultural sensitivity and avoids alienating audiences by anticipating the impact of word choices on different populations.

When technical terms are used, define these terms in language that a person unfamiliar with the field would understand.

Describe the physiological and psychological evidence for the finding.

2. Describe processes, sites, and data.2.1 Is precise: describes data/sites accurately and objectively.Accurately describe data using objective terms
Emphasize the importance of using specific details and terminology to ensure a clear understanding of the subject matter.
2.2 Is concise: avoids providing superfluous details.

Provide concise descriptions by focusing on relevant and essential information.

Discourage the inclusion of unnecessary or excessive details that may detract from the main point or overwhelm the reader.

2.3 Contains accurate information.Stress the significance of fact-checking and ensuring that descriptions are based on accurate and reliable information.
Encourage students to critically evaluate their sources and verify the credibility of the data or information they present.
2.4 Write descriptions that reflect understanding of scientific foundations.

Encourage students to demonstrate their understanding of key principles, theories, or research findings when describing processes, sites, or data, which include:

  • Accurate and comprehensive use of
    terminology: Students should use discipline-specific terminology appropriately and accurately, indicating a deep understanding of the scientific concepts and theories in SLHS.
  • Integration of research findings: Students should incorporate relevant research findings and studies into their writing, demonstrating an understanding of the current scientific literature in the field. They should be able to critically analyze and synthesize research to support their arguments or discussions.
  • Application of theoretical frameworks: Students should apply theoretical frameworks or models in their writing to explain phenomena or guide their analysis. They should demonstrate an understanding of how theories and concepts are applied in practical contexts within SLHS.
  • Understanding of research methods: Students should demonstrate familiarity with research methods commonly used in speech-language-hearing sciences. They should be able to discuss the strengths and limitations of different research designs and methodologies, as well as interpret and evaluate research findings.
3. Make a
persuasive recommendation.
3.1 Supports recommendations with pertinent scientific, economic, or sociocultural perspectives.

Support a recommendation with multiple pieces of evidence.

Emphasize the importance of using credible sources and research findings to support their arguments.

3.2 Demonstrates critical thinking and logical reasoning.Guide students in presenting persuasive recommendations by employing critical thinking skills and logical reasoning.
Encourage them to anticipate and address counterarguments, providing sound justifications for their recommendations.
4. Make and provide evidence for claims.4.1 Provides a testable thesis idea/statement or claim.

The thesis or claim should be specific, arguable, and provide a basis for further analysis or investigation.

A substantive thesis goes beyond established facts or findings and delves into exploring new perspectives, challenging existing theories, or investigating gaps in the current knowledge.

It is essential for students to go beyond providing simple summaries or conclusions that are readily confirmed by existing research literature. Instead, they should strive to develop more complex and narrow research questions that lead to more engaging and thought-provoking discussions.

4.2 Substantiates claims and/or conclusions with adequate evidence.Assess the extent to which students support their claims and conclusions with relevant and sufficient evidence.
4.3 Utilizes credible sources to substantiate claims.Use of reputable and reliable sources that contribute to the credibility and persuasiveness of the claims.
4.4 Presents persuasive arguments and analysis.Present compelling arguments and analysis based on the evidence provided, demonstrating critical thinking and logical reasoning.
4.5 Moves beyond description to analyze or interpret data or finding.Provide thoughtful insights, explanations, and connections that extend beyond surface-level observations.
4.6 Synthesizes disparate perspectives or chronological findings found in primary data.Analyze and compare contrasting viewpoints, identify
common themes or patterns, and provide a comprehensive synthesis of the information.
4.7 Includes and explains visuals (figures, charts, tables) in enough detail that they convey meaning when viewed apart from surrounding text.

Has axis labels and units. 

Being able to explain what the axes correspond to. 

Uses correct scaling and appropriate numeric precision. 

Being able to translate between graph and description, or between description and graph. 

Has informative and concise figure caption (something that aids consumption of the figure to help it stand alone, but wouldn’t just be a replication of the text itself). Usually one sentence per main point that is being communicated. Avoiding any superfluous information.

Concise captions (e.g. “to” instead of “in order to”). 

Differentiating between describing a graph (what it literally shows) and interpreting a graph (the lesson we learn from it).

4.8 Incorporates visuals that have been correctly scaled.

Visuals they include in their writing are appropriately scaled and accurately represent the data or information being conveyed.

Proper scaling helps to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the visuals.

4.9 Demonstrates the ability to select relevant sources.Choose appropriate and relevant sources that align with their claims and insights.
4.10 Integrates unambiguous
Only citing legitimate peer-reviewed sources versus random opinions
Citing original/primary sources rather than aggregations/review articles/second-hand citations
Having consistent formatting of references, following some established guideline (e.g. APA)
Make it unambiguous which reference corresponds to each exact point (i.e. don’t report A, B, C, and then cite
X, Y, Z; report A(X), B(Y), C(Z)).
4.11 Incorporates appropriate and credible data.

Students should demonstrate their ability to select relevant and credible sources that support their claims and insights.

They should provide accurate and unambiguous citations to give credit to the original sources of data or information.

5. Organize contents logically.5.1 Organizes text based on scientific processes and categories.

(a) Papers will include separate sections for analysis, results, and discussion.

(b) Analysis, results, and discussion sections will not duplicate information.

 5.2 Discriminates between empirical and theoretical evidence.Papers’ summaries of empirical evidence will be veridical, and not based on notions of how the evidence ‘should’ behave.
 5.3 Facilitates logical
comprehension and idea
For different genres, papers will follow the organizational template provided in the writing assignment.
 5.4 Summarizes consistencies and inconsistencies in previous studies.

For an empirical study: in writing up summaries of empirical evidence, papers will refer to all of the relevant data, and not to subsets of data that are chosen to illustrate a particular point of view.

For a literature review: in writing up summaries of prior studies, students will summarize the consistencies and inconsistencies in previous studies, and not just those that accord with one another.

6. Revise and proofread.6.1 Writes paragraphs that cohere logically.Follow the guidelines in the grading rubric that has been supplied with the writing assignment [requires willingness to share rubric].
6.2 Demonstrates command of standard grammar and punctuation.Papers will follow [a grammar and punctuation guide that is publicly accessible].
6.3 Uses well-constructed sentences.The individual sentences that comprise a piece of writing should follow [a grammar and punctuation guide that is publicly accessible].


Highlights from the Writing Plan

In implementing their First-Edition Writing Plan, the SLHS faculty will focus on two areas:

  • ensuring that writing assignments are effectively composed and coached. 
  • implementing their shared menu of grading criteria.

Effective writing assignment design will be supported with assignment design workshops, informal lunch discussions, and teaching consultations. Strategies for developing effective peer-response activities will receive specific attention in these sessions. Implementation of relevant grading criteria will also be addressed with workshops and discussions, including grade norming workshops and training for TAs. A graduate student research assistant has been hired to coordinate training and professional development, to collect instructional supports, and to assess the efficacy of implementation activity using feedback forms and follow-up surveys. Results of these assessments will be discussed by the faculty as members develop the second-edition writing plan.