Health and Rehab SciWestern Health Sciences

Speech & Language Science

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Speech & Language Sciences seeks to understand human speech and language processes, particularly as they relate to health and disability.

Basic and applied research focuses on a broad range of content areas including:

  • Speech perception
  • Speech and language development
  • Speech acoustics
  • Speech physiology and their interactions
  • Voice production and perception
  • Oral physiology
  • Language comprehension and expression
  • Linguistic-cognitive interactions
  • Communication as a psychosocial behaviour

The changing nature of these speech and language processes across the lifespan is also considered. Arising from the complexity of human communication, the Speech & Language Science Field sits at the crossroads of a number of domains including speech-language pathology, psychology, physiology, linguistics, neuroscience, and engineering.

Field Requirements

Students must complete three mandatory half-credit courses:

Methods Course

MSc Courses

HS 9601a - Quantitative Methods in Health Sciences - 0.5 credit
*HS 9515 (statistics) is strongly recommended as a precursor to this course.
This course is designed to provide participants with an introduction to quantitative research methods, including basic research study design and the skills and practice necessary to determine the internal validity of evidence found in the health sciences literature. We will specifically address the validity of studies evaluating effectiveness of interventions (randomized trials, cohort and case control studies), diagnostic tests, risk factors, development of disease, and disease prognosis and conclude the course with an introduction to systematic review.

HS 9602a - Qualitative Research Methods in Health Sciences - 0.5 credit
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the qualitative paradigm and its current and potential applications in health and rehabilitation sciences. The philosophical assumptions that form an integral part of the qualitative paradigm will be examined, as will the assumptions underlying various qualitative schools of inquiry (e.g., grounded theory, phenomenology, ethnography, action research, narrative). Key considerations in the critical evaluation and design of qualitative studies within several schools of inquiry relevant to health and rehabilitation sciences will be addressed. Students will have opportunities to engage in critical analysis of qualitative research; discuss ethical issues related to the conduct of qualitative research; and engage in the process of proposal development within a group.

PhD Courses

HS 9707a - Linear Regression for Health & Rehabilitation Sciences - 0.5 credit
*HS 9601 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course is an introduction to linear regression for health sciences, examining simple regression, multiple regression, the use of categorical independent variables, and the fitting of interaction terms. Although formulas are given and calculations are presented, the principal orientation of the course is conceptual rather than mathematical.

HS 9708 - Advanced Topics in Qualitative Research - 0.5 credit
*HS 9602 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course will give learners the opportunity to learn how to rigorously and systematically analyse qualitative data in the form of interview transcripts from a study on women's experience of aging and osteoporosis. The course will begin with a review of the three key qualitative approaches or research designs used in the health sciences (grounded theory, qualitative case study and phenomenology). Next, we will highlight how the approaches are shaped by specific research paradigms (post-positivism, interpretivism/constructivism or critical theory).

HS 9709b - ANOVA-based Methods of Data Analysis - 0.5 credit
*HS 9601 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course will explore ANOVA based methods of data analysis, including t test, ANOVA, ANCOVA, Split-plot ANOVA, Factorial ANOVA, and MANOVA.

HS 9730b - Philosophical Foundations of Qualitative Research - 0.5 credit
*HS 9602 is recommended as a precursor to this course

This course provides an introduction to philosophical foundations of qualitative research with a particular focus on interpretive and critical paradigms of inquiry. Assumptions about what constitutes knowledge (epistemology), the nature of existence (ontology), and means for gaining knowledge (methodology) within different knowledge paradigms are considered. Students examine philosophical and theoretical perspectives that underpin various schools to qualitative inquiry and identify perspectives relevant to the coherent and rigorous design of research. Within this course, students explore perspectives that relate to their own research interests; expand their familiarity with the specialized terminology adopted in qualitative research; consider approaches to representing, writing and publishing qualitative research; and investigate implications for the design and evaluation of qualitative research in health and social care. This course is highly recommended for doctoral level students completing a qualitative research dissertation, and is open to highly motivated Masters level students wishing to deepen their research knowledge.

Field Based Course or Equivalent

HS 9681 - An Introduction to Speech and Language Science
Goal of the course is to provide an opporunity for students to explore issues in the field of Speech and Language Science.

Elective (Recommended by Advisory Committee)

HRS course electives include:

  • HS 9623 - Perspectives in Knowledge Translation
  • HS 9632 - Current Topics in Child & Youth Health
  • HS 9801 - Motor Control

Course electives offered by other programs:

  • Nursing 9685 - Policy Development & Analysis I

As necessary, students may need to take the courses listed below as pre- or co-requisite courses.

HS 9515a - Introduction to Statistics for Health & Rehabilitation Sciences - 0.5 credit
This is an introductory statistics course for students entering the Graduate Program in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. It includes data presentation and normalization, types of variables and levels of measurement, descriptive statistics, and hypothesis testing using both nonparametric and parametric procedures. This course is designed to introduce techniques used to analyze quantitative data used in health-related research and allied fields. Emphasis will be placed on the basic concepts of quantitative analysis including an introduction to multivariate analysis, and the use of statistical software.

HS 9516a - Introduction to Research Methods Health & Rehabilitation - 0.5 credit
This course addresses foundational knowledge and skills contributing to the development of students as early researchers. In this course, students will explore the philosophical assumptions underlying qualitative and quantitative methodologies, develop an appreciation of the potential contributions of various types of research, and reflect on their own assumptions and values regarding what they view as credible knowledge and ways of knowing. Students will discuss essential research elements, ethical principles and quality criteria relevant to qualitative and quantitative methodologies and designs, and will begin to develop critical appraisal skills.

Students must attend and participate in Seminar Milestones:

HRS Common Seminar

1 year

Several seminars are open to all faculty and students in the HRS program, and are regularly scheduled thorough the academic year. Announcements about the speaker and specific topics addressed in each seminar will be provided via e-mails (Amber Trent) and posted on the HRS seminar board. Topics and format of these seminars may vary. A student may be required to attend one or more of these seminar series depending on their field and/or based on the recommendations of their advisory committee.

The Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (HRS) Common Seminar is a required program milestone. MSc and PhD students must attend regularly the seminar in their first year of enrolment in the HRS Program. The seminar is intended to provide a forum for scholarly interactions among students registered in the various fields comprising the HRS program. In addition, the seminar is designed and will be run to foster the development of research skills necessary for graduate school success.

Participation in Field Based Seminar

This seminar will meet twice monthly during the fall and winter terms to provide an opportunity for students to explore, in greater depth, selected topics and issues related to the study of speech and language science. This seminar will involve students, researchers, and invited speakers presenting various aspects of research in speech and language.

All PhD students must pass a formal comprehensive examination as a requirement of the PhD degree:

Comprehensive Examination (PhD Requirement)

The exam consists of a written paper of publishable quality in peer-reviewed manuscript or book chapter format.

The purpose of the comprehensive examination is to:

  • Demonstrate scholarly writing
  • Demonstrate a critical synthesis of theory and literature
  • Situate the student’s planned research within the field of health and aging, including theory, research literature, and research methods

This paper will be evaluated by the Comprehensive Examination Committee: the student’s supervisor; one member of the student’s advisory committee; and one person external to the student’s advisory committee (who may be external to the field, program, or university, as long as s/he is approved by the Health & Rehabilitation Sciences program).

The exam must be completed successfully in order for students to begin the thesis phase.