Graduate Program Re-Accreditation – Public Comment Meeting

by   |  03.09.15  |  Announcements

Public Comment Meeting

March 30, 2015
4:00 – 5:00 pm
Living Room of the Campus Center
Abilene Christian University

The graduate program in speech-language pathology at Abilene Christian University is applying for re-accreditation from the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). In accordance with the CAA policy on Public Comment, the program invites interested parties to attend a meeting on March 30, 2015 at 4:00 pm in the Living Room of the Campus Center on the ACU campus.

This meeting will be facilitated by CAA site visitors to address how the program is meeting the Standards for Accreditation. A copy of the standards and/or the CAA’s Policy on Public Comment may be obtained by contacting the Accreditation Office at ASHA, 2200 Research Boulevard, Rockville, Maryland, 20850, calling ASHA’s Action Center at 1-800-498-2071, or accessing the documents on ASHA’s Web site at Additional information regarding the time and location of this meeting may be obtained by calling Dr. Brenda Bender, Program Director, at 325/674-2074.

Baggs and Barnett Publish Seminal Article on Grad Admissions

by   |  01.27.15  |  Uncategorized

Baggs and BarnettFinding the perfect fit in graduate programs has become increasingly difficult as the number of graduate applications swell across the nation.  Graduate program admissions commitees are faced with the difficult task of predicting which applicants will be successful graduate students.

Dr. Terry Baggs and Dr. Denise Barnett, along with Dr. Kim McCullough from Appalachian State University, are poised to publish an article that tackled the problem of predicting student success in grad school.  Coming out in the March issue of Journal of Allied Health, this article considered numerous cognitive variables used when making admissions decisions:  grade point averages, GRE scores, and grades in communication disorders courses.  These variables were compared to the student’s Praxis score upon their finishing the graduate program of study.  Dr. Baggs explains that “the Praxis score doesn’t necessarily indicate that an individual is a good clinician, but graduate programs are assessed on their Praxis pass rates.”

The largest study of its kind in speech-language pathology, the research team considered admissions data from four graduate programs in speech-language pathology (ACU, Harding University, Arkansas State University, and the University of Central Arkansas) to assess the relationships among grades, GRE scores, and the Praxis.

So, what were their findings?  The researchers were able to predict with an astounding 87% accuracy whether a student would pass or fail the Praxis on the first attempt based solely on the student’s grades in undergraduate physical sciences and speech-hearing science classes and total score on the GRE.  “This doesn’t mean that other things aren’t important,” says Dr. Baggs, “but it emphasizes the importance of certain variables in predicting academic success.”  According to Dr. Baggs, this research has been helpful in implementing strategies for streamlining the admissions process and balancing their approach with both academic and more subjective variables.  For example, they now require an interview for those applicants who have made it to the final stages of the application process.  Their careful attention to balancing academic and personal variables help to find applicants who are likely to become successful clinicians.  The article reference is:  Journal of Allied Health 2015; 44(1):10-16.


Students Mix Academics and Fun

by   |  10.31.14  |  Uncategorized

Who says learning has to be boring? Our first and second year students decide that they will celebrate Halloween in style this year, dressing for the classes!

2nd Year Students Halloween

2nd Year Students, graduating May 2015



1st Years Halloween

1st Year Students, graduating May 2016

Grad Students Experience the World

by   |  10.28.14  |  Uncategorized


Students in traditional dress with children in Zambia

All graduate programs in CSD provide practicum experiences for their students. But, these experiences can vary widely from one university to another. Many programs keep their student close to home, resulting in a large proportion of clinical hours are obtained in their on-campus clinic. How can a student be provided excellent experiences across a broad range of populations and settings while considering the amount of experience of the student in the first semester of grad school? ACU has found a method that provides world-class experiences while reducing first semester clinical jitters.

First semester grad students at Abilene Christian receive an integrated approach to academic and clinical training. It is very much a “learn and go do” model of instruction, according to Associate Professor Dr. Lynette Austin. Learning about assessment and treatment in class is coupled with actual service provision at a local school for children with learning disabilities. A limited caseload with structured activities and heavy supervision provides an enhanced learning experience and significant clinical readiness for practicum in sites throughout Abilene and the world.  In other semesters, students may work in our on-campus clinic or experience practicum sites throughout the Abilene metro area or even beyond.

The world? The summer between academic years and the last semester prior to graduation allows the student opportunities to further explore the possibilities in clinical service provision. Although not mandatory, students are encouraged to go outside of Abilene. Many return to their home due to lower living expenses. But, the options are endless. This past summer saw students headed in all directions throughout Texas as well as Oregon, California, South Carolina, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and even to Zambia on the continent of Africa. Almost every student blogged that their experience was a significant learning experience and a boost to their confidence! Practicum experiences in our on-campus clinic, at sites throughout metro Abilene, and throughout the world allow for students to graduate with experiences that rival any other program.

Department Sees Firsts

by   |  10.13.14  |  Uncategorized


The new academic year has seen some firsts in CSD. For this academic year, the graduate program received 186 applications for the program, up from 134 for the previous year. From this number, the faculty selected a new class of 23 graduate students. Added to the second year cohort, the program is at an all-time high of 47 graduate students. These numbers represent more than 100% growth in the past six years! Solid growth is also seen in the undergraduate program with 28 new freshman majors this year and a total undergrad enrollment of 127. This was also the first year that ACU grads were outnumbered in the first year graduate class with 70% coming from other universities. These students hail from California, Washington, Iowa, Indiana, Georgia, and other Texas schools. This diversity brings a plethora of experiences, perspectives, and wisdom.

With positive growth comes some growing pains. No longer do all of our undergrad classes fit in the department classrooms. And, we are expanding our clinical experiences and staff to meet a growing needs for clinical hours. In the past two years, we have added an additional full time clinical faculty member, Rachel Smith, a part time clinical supervisor, Sue Postelwait, and a full time administrative coordinator at our on campus clinic, Autum McNeill.

These firsts represents ACU’s desire to meet the growing need for speech-language pathologists in the workplace while continuing to maintain personal attention with a Christian world view.