Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



School of Medicine


Communication Sciences and Disorders

Committee Chair

Kimberly Meigh


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of two educational environments (jigsaw learning activity and standardized patient encounters) on speech-language pathology students’ professional communication when assessing and treating a voice disorder case study. Jigsaw activities are cooperative learning experiences that provide students opportunities to learn from one another. Studies have shown that students have improvements in learning new material, self-confidence, and communication skills (Wong & Driscoll, 2008; Asif et al., 2021). A standardized patient encounter provides a real-life clinical experience for students. There has been a mixed response to students improving their communication skills through the use of standardized patients (Hill et al., 2010; Johnson & Kopp, 1996; Zraick, 2020). Both environments provided opportunities for students to practice and refine their professional communication behaviors. Our study examined whether one environment influences students’ professional communication more so than the other.

Method: Thirty-five graduate students in Advanced Voice Disorders at West Virginia University participated in a jigsaw activity set up like medical rounds. The cohort was set up into two groups: experts and clinicians. On the first medical rounds day, groups of experts presented a voice disorder case to groups of clinicians. On the second medical rounds day, the students who were presenters on the first day became clinicians. Every student had the chance to diagnose four voice disorder cases. Later in the semester, students completed the same activity with a standardized patient in the WVU STEPS simulation lab. Results: Two related-samples Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to evaluate the median difference in student professional behaviors during the beginning and end of medical rounds (MR1 and MR4, respectively) and MR4 and a standardized patient encounter (SPE). Significance value was adjusted for multiple tests (p = .025). Students increased their median percentage of professional communication behaviors from MR1 (median = 75%) to MR4 (median = 88.89%; z = 3.686, p < .0005). A significant increase in professional communication behaviors was also observed from MR4 to SPE (median = 93.67%; z = 3.233, p = .001).

Conclusion: The current work contributes to the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) literature regarding professional communication behaviors in graduate student learning in communication sciences and disorders (CSD). In the medical SoTL literature, the type of communication behaviors learned during jigsaw activities was unclear (Asif et al., 2021; Rathore et al., 2017; Sanaie et al., 2019; Wong & Driscoll, 2008) and not examined in CSD SoTL work. The results of this study suggest CSD graduate students learn professional communication behaviors relevant to clinical practice during jigsaw learning activities. Moreover, our study results suggest there is a benefit to placing students in higher fidelity learning activities to further enhance their professional communication skills (cf. Zraik et al., 2003).