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SPE3006 Language and Communication Disorders

Semester 1, 2012 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Education
School or Department : Education
Version produced : 30 December 2013

Contents on this page


Examiner: Nicole Todd
Moderator: Barry Fields


Success in life can be directly related to the ability to communicate. As future special educators who will work with students with a range of language and communication difficulties, pre-service teachers need to develop an understanding of language development, how it is researched and measured and the impact of language and communication disorders on literacy and learning. They also need to be able to implement a range of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) strategies. This refers to ways (other than speech) used to send a message from one person to another. People with severe speech or language problems must rely quite heavily on these standard techniques as well as special augmentative techniques that have been specifically developed for them. Full interpersonal communication substantially enhances an individual's potential for education, employment, and independence.


This course examines theories of language development, research and measurement of speech, language and communication skills and how disorders in these areas impact on children's literacy and learning. It also teaches pre-service teachers how to assess children who are non-verbal for communication intent and then to design and implement an augmentative and/or alternative communication intervention. Students will also examine existing programmes of augmentative or alternative communication currently being used by students with communication difficulties.


The course objectives define the student learning outcomes for a course. The assessment item(s) that may be used to assess student achievement of an objective are shown in parenthesis. On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of children's language development (research proposal, programme development).
  2. demonstrate knowledge around the research and measurement of language (research proposal, programme development).
  3. demonstrate understanding about the identification and measurement of speech, language and communication disorders and their influence on literacy and learning (research proposal, programme development).
  4. demonstrate familiarity with the current literature on the development of intentional communication in people with communication difficulties (research proposal, programme development).
  5. apply this knowledge to design, implement and evaluate an assessment of communicative intent for a nonverbal child, in relation to behaviour or literacy needs (research proposal, programme development).
  6. critically examine programmes designed to teach augmentative and alternative communication (research proposal, programme development).
  7. demonstrate competence in information literacy skills, including critical and reflective thinking (research proposal, programme development).
  8. demonstrate competence in and appropriate use of language and literacy, including spelling, grammar, punctuation and bibliographic referencing (research proposal, programme development).


Description Weighting(%)
1. Language development: research methods, theoretical perspectives, features of language. Major language milestones: infancy and toddlers, preschoolers and school children, measuring language development. 20.00
2. Language diversity: multicultural influences, second language learning, speech, language and communication disorders. 10.00
3. Language diversity: multicultural influences, second language learning, speech, language and communication disorders. 10.00
4. Introduction to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC): when and why it may be required and research in the area 20.00
5. Programming: development of interventions, including collaboration with other personnel, related to behaviour and literacy 20.00
6. Evaluating augmentative and alternative communication devices, specific approaches for specific purposes. 20.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Owens, R.E 2010, Language disorders: A functional approach to assessment and intervention, Allyn and Bacon, Boston.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Directed Study 70.00
Independent Study 70.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
RESEARCH PROPOSAL 50 50 30 Apr 2012

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Attendance Requirements: It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without (prior) approval of the examiner then a penalty of 5% of the total marks gained by the student for the assignment may apply for each working day late up to ten working days at which time a mark of zero may be recorded. No assignments will be accepted after model answers have been posted.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination in this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    As there are no examinations in this course, there will be no deferred or supplementary examinations

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. APA style is the referencing system required in this course. Students should use APA style in their assignments to format details of the information sources they have cited in their work. The APA style to be used is defined by the USQ Library's referencing guide.

Other requirements

  1. Students will require access to e-mail and have Internet access to UConnect for this course