Professor’s new textbook focuses on active learning

June 7, 2010 | Features, UToday
By Meghan Cunningham



Lecturing to her students did not provide the right experiences to develop needed skills, so Dr. Joan N. Kaderavek changed her teaching practices to help students “think like a clinician.”

Kaderavek, a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Physical and Special Education in the Judith Herb College of Education, did away with traditional short-answer tests and memorization techniques. And she began providing activities for students to think through language impairments and how to best help children foster language development.

That teaching style is the focus of the new textbook she authored, Language Disorders in Children: Fundamental Concepts of Assessment and Intervention, published by Pearson. The book is written for undergraduate students studying speech-language pathology and special education.

“The training of today’s students is more about critical thinking and decision-making,” Kaderavek said. “It’s really a different approach. Students already have a lot of the information and what they need in their training is the how and the why to use that information.”

Kaderavek said she would go through an exercise in class about a child with a language disorder and explain the process she would take to assess and intervene. The students all agreed; no one had any questions. But when Kaderavek gave them an example and asked them to demonstrate their understanding, her students didn’t know where to start.

Her book addresses that problem.

Language Disorders in Children not only provides information about children who have language disorders due to autism, hearing impairments, intellectual disabilities and more, but it describes how to work to remediate these language disorders. The book includes numerous case examples, decision trees, checklists, observation tools and more hands-on activities to help students think like clinicians.

Kaderavek said her approach was developed to show college students how each concept applies to clinical decision-making and how to make connections between different groups of disorders.

“For me, it’s a critical turning point in thinking. How do you take that data and theory you’ve learned and apply it to practice?” she said. “My goal is to give college students confidence that they can work with a child with a language disorder some day and make informed decisions to help children and their families.”

Kaderavek, who is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of clinical and classroom experience, spent four years working on the 11-chapter book.

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