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International students in professional placements: supervision strategies for positive learning experiences

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Background: Professional placements are critical elements of speech–language pathology qualifying programmes that can be complex learning environments for international students. Students are supported by placement educators who facilitate their developing skills and competencies for professional practice in these placements. However, strategies that facilitate international students’ learning in placements have not been identified. Aims: To identify strategies that are reported by speech–language pathology international students and placement educators to facilitate positive learning experiences and competency development in practice placements. Methods & Procedures: This study used an exploratory research design to gather data from four focus groups with international students and five focus groups with placement educators. Thematic analysis was used to identify strategies, and these were interpreted using two theories of learning. Outcomes & Results: Four themes were identified that described international students’ placement experiences and learning. For each theme, strategies were identified that placement educators can practically and responsively implement with international students to enable positive placement learning experiences. Conclusions & Implications: These strategies support international students to manage acculturative adjustments for the cultural and learning requirements of placements that may facilitate their successful participation, and provide structure to reduce their cognitive load. However, strategies to develop communication skills for practice were less feasible. Through fostering positive placement experiences, these strategies may also facilitate opportunities for educators and international students to share intercultural skills and knowledge that may be transferable to practice.




Attrill, S., Lincoln, M., & McAllister, S. (2020). International students in professional placements: supervision strategies for positive learning experiences. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 55(2), 243–254.

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