European Module on Fluency DisordersOver more than a decade Thomas More has coordinated a Socrates SLT network of seventeen departments in eleven European countries. As a result of this ongoing process of collaboration, staff had become aware of standards and teaching methods throughout the various departments, and of the fact that, during the Bologna process all over Europe, there should be a harmonisation to achieve a more substantial equivalence. As a result of ongoing cooperation, broad preparatory study and inter institutional consultation, teachers from 8 departments agreed to develop a European module on Fluency Disorders. Although this topic is part of the regular curriclum of each educational SLT training program, content and standards varied throughout the participating departments. To ascertain that all SLTs on the labour market would achieve minimal and equal standards of competence to practice in the field of fluency disorders, this group developed:
a) a joint core curriculum module on fluency disorders at undergraduate level, and
b) a clinical specialization course, offered as a postqualification course for SLTs wanting to specialize in this area.
Joint Ba/Ma course on Fluency Disorders
The aim of the joint Ba/Ma course on Fluency Disorders is to harmonize course content and the learning goals of this topic in all the participating universities and colleges, though with respect for the individual differences since this is crucial for scientific progression and innovation. Bringing together specialists and experts in the specific area of fluency disorders in order to create a complete new common module is absolutely innovative. Not all course leaders have the same viewpoints on stuttering consequently they emphasize different aspects of fluency disorders (e.g. neurological aspects of the problem, psychological correlates of motor difficulties experienced in fluency disorders) resulting in different points of view on therapy (e.g. cognitive behavioral, fluency shaping, stuttering modification approaches). The development, acceptance and implementation of this joint module in so many different departments is highly innovative and can be considered the result of ten years of collaboration and detailed preparatory work.
European Clinical Specialization Course on Fluency Disorders
The aim of the Specialization Course on Fluency Disorders is to achieve an equal and high standard of competency in the specialist practice area of fluency disorders. SLTs primarily work in general practice initially but many wish to specialize in a particular area of clinical practice such as fluency disorders. Advances in research, knowledge base and practice support the need to train specialized fluency experts.
Such a specialization course has never previously been offered as a joint project in Europe. By bringing together the expertise of numerous fluency specialists, the educational standards of the course and the professional competencies of the graduates is guaranteed. Moreover this course provides an extra European dimension by creating a sphere of exchange and integration among the participating students and lecturers, affecting both students and lecturers. It stimulates them to look across the borders and helps them realise the impact of an increasingly international EU environment.
The ECSF-consortium has been working on the development of the specialization course and joint Ba/Ma course for approximately two years. The group received substantial EU funding after approval of the project as a Socrates Curriculum Development Project. This enabled the group to have several meetings across Europe to discuss and develop the programs. The ECSF-specialization course officially started during the academic year '07-'08, while the harmonized Ba/Ma course will be implemented at the participating institutes commencing in the academic year '08-'09.
The ECSF-consortium submitted an application for an additional EU dissemination project in March '08. The goals of this dissemination project include, among others, the enlargement of the ECSF-consortium with new partners, outreach to new EU member states, and quality assurance of the specialization course & ECSF-graduates. If this application would be selected (notification July '08) the further development will be in cooperation with The Standing Liaison Committee of Speech and Language Therapists in the European Union (CPLOL) and The European League of Stuttering Associations (ELSA).