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Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders

Part 8: Student/Clinic Instructor Relationship



Clinic Instruction is Different

Professionals who provide clinic instruction, or clinical supervision, are interested in your progress toward becoming a competent and confident professional. The student-instructor relationship is intended to foster student growth.  To grow, you need the opportunity to figure things out for yourself-- to develop knowledge and skills, to include critical thinking as a clinician. 

This is not to say that you should "go it alone" in your practicum.  Quite the contrary!  You should be participating in an active and ongoing dialogue with your instructor about your client's progress and your own progress as an intern.

Your instructor is looking for signs that you are analyzing your client's progress and assessing your own performance; that you are being proactive in finding answers and forming ideas; and that you are bringing this information and these ideas to your conversations with them.

Your instructor is not only an educator but a support person for you as an intern. We encourage you to open and honest with your instructor; you instructor cares about you as a student in the program and as a future professional.

Your instructor will use several methods to guide your learning. These usually include individual student-instructor conferences, reviews of recorded sessions, group meetings, demonstration therapy and evaluation. Through these processes, the instructor intends to help you develop greater independence in problem solving, decision-making, and evaluating your clinical skills.


Style of Supervision

Instructional styles vary across supervisors, and a given instructor's style may vary across students.

Instructional styles vary across  supervisors for numerous reasons, to include:

  • Professional backgrounds: The years of experience and the settings in which professionals have worked will influence their style and expectations of student interns.
  • Prior experiences with interns: Professionals have varying levels of experience with clinic instruction.  At the university, clinic instructors typically have extensive experience in working with numerous interns and in using methods to guide student learning.  Off-campus supervisors have varying levels of experience working with interns.
  • Previous experiences as interns:   Supervisors' instructional styles also are influenced by the experiences they had as student interns.  They may seek to emulate styles of supervisors they enjoyed, and avoid the stylings of supervisors with whom they had less positive experiences.

A supervisor may change instructional styles between students for numerous reasons, to include:

  • The experience and clinical prowess of the student: Students have different degrees of clinical experience.  Students learn and master clinical knowledge and skills at different rates under different circumstances.  A supervisor will provide the support based on the student's level.
  • The complexity of the client: Clients vary in the complexity of their communication disorder and other health or social needs, and a supervisor may determine the student needs additional support to work with the client.


Amount of Supervision

ASHA Standards call on professionals to provide as much supervision as the student requires, up to 100% and no less than 25%, based on the student's and client's needs.

You can expect your instructor to observe from 30% to 60% of your therapy sessions. If you feel you would like more observations, feel free to discuss that with your instructor.  The instructor is there to help!


ASHA Resources on Supervision

The American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association has helpful resources on Student Supervision




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Last modified on 09/04/14 11:13 AM
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