SPCHSCI 711 : Introduction to Communication in Children and Adults


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Communication development and disorders. Normal communication development across the lifespan, in the context of total child development, of major changes in expectations such as school and literacy, and of variations such as cultural differences and multilingualism. Applications of these concepts in an introduction to the assessment and management of communication disorders in children and of acquired disorders in adults.

Course Overview

This course is about –
  • the nature of human communication; it is rich, complex, highly social and shaped by context, including the contexts of culture. This material is closely allied to SpchSci 712 which students will be doing at the same time
  • the development of cultural competence. This will be broad, but also specific to NZ, so with an emphasis on Maori. You will learn some Te Reo kupu (words, greetings) and some tikanga (practices) such as karakia, waiata, powhiri kawa, greetings in Te Reo, and about te Tiriti o Waitangi and the ongoing impact of colonisation in NZ
  • the development of human communication through the lifespan; how children communicate from birth to normal changes through older ages. Class material is supplemented by visits to preschools and schools through the semester, where you will observe communication in children of different ages and in different contexts
  • an understanding of difficulties in communication in the developmental phases - and how they may persevere in adult life 
  • some aspects of how to assess communication in children. You will use some of the skills learned in class in the preschool and school visits

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Articulate a rich view of human communication (Capability 1, 2 and 4)
  2. Have beginning skills in the analysis of this rich view of human communication (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Demonstrate knowledge and use of small amounts of Te Reo and tikanga Maori, and developing cultural competence (Capability 4, 5 and 6)
  4. Demonstrate skills in observing, collecting and analysing communication samples from children and adults
  5. Analyse the communication of typically developing children using a rich model of human communication (Capability 1, 2 and 5)
  6. Identify in case examples the content, process and stages of typical communication development in children, and ageing related changes in adults (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  7. Analyse the typical characteristics and the variability of normal language development in real communication contexts (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  8. Have a beginning understanding of communication difficulties in children (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  9. Have initial skills in the assessment of speech and language difficulties (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
quizzes 25% Individual Coursework
Take-home test 20% Individual Test
Assignment 1 25% Individual Coursework
Assignment 2 30% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Take-home test
Assignment 1
Assignment 2


The programme runs a tuakana-teina model between the second year and first year of the course. There is a timetabled hour once a week where students can get together, and a student nominated to help run the programme, from each year. We encourage support and a positive relationship  between the students, and the students and staff. If we have Maori or Pasifika students, this may be done with them in particular. We don't have a dedicated coordinator, as we are a small course and are not on the same campus as the larger part of the school which does have a dedicated position for tuakana. We may call upon their resources if we see it can work out. 

Key Topics

  1. Cultural issues are covered  in the first two weeks of the course (pre-semester weeks) through a Cultural Awareness workshop, a Te Tiriti o Waitangi course (3 mornings), Powhiri preparation and waiata, and the Powhiri itself. Then a section each week through the semester involves learning and using karakia, waiata, kupu, and discussions of tikanga . These are  included in the weekly quizzes. 
  2. Typical communication development is taught in the first 2 hours of the 3 hour session on mondays for 6 weeks, followed by a third hour in which these learnings on typical development are applied to communication difficulties, and the view of language/communication is enriched. Two lecturers are involved here, Elaine Ballard & Linda Hand. The section on language and ageing is taught by Clare McCann and takes place in the last weeks of the course, along with a section on bilingual language learning by Elaine Ballard. 
  3. Learning about skills in observation, collection and analysis of communication takes place in the tuesday 3 hour sessions. Each alternate week, the students will be in either a preschool or a school, applying these skills to children. This material provides the data for the assignments, which involve applying these data and analyses to the picture found in section 2., i.e. on what you can see of typical development.   
A detailed weekly content timetable will be provided separately in Canvas.

Special Requirements

  1. Around half of the tuesday morning sessions are visits to a preschool or school, organised by the course coordinator. Students do some of these individually and some in pairs. and they must be completed to pass the course. The police check and immunisations are required for these visits. Transport to & from these sites is the student's responsibility, and the rules and expectations of those sites must be adhered to.
  2. The quizzes are conducted at the beginning of each monday class, and at least 8 of the 11 must be completed, including one compulsory one. There will be catch-up opportunities if needed. 
  3. The assignments are submitted individually. However students are encouraged to support one another's learning and share resources, work together and problem-solve throughout the degree course. The development of  a collegial approach is part of becoming professional, and part of the value system the course embraces including the tuakana-teina approach to peers and others. 

Workload Expectations

The MSLTPrac is an intensive course  wherein you qualify as having met standards for entry into a profession (CBOS). You will find you need to spend at least the recommended hours outside of class, to manage the workload. 

For this course, you can expect 5-6 hours of class time, 2-3 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3-4 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Your attendance is expected at scheduled activities including scheduled classes and external visits. The classes will be a mixture of teaching (lecturing) content (which will be the majority of the time), class activities (tutorial-type content) and discussions.
Lectures will be available as recordings; however other learning activities may not be available as recordings.
The course may include occasional live online events including tutorial-type sessions.
Attendance on campus is required for the quizzes and exams.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. However be aware that there can be variations to the timetable that appears on the student website both for exact times and for class rooms, so please keep an eye on notifications which may come through Canvas or email. 

Learning Resources

  1. MacLagan, Margaret & Ann Buckley (2019) Talking Baby. Christchurch; University of Canterbury Press. [This locally produced book is designed for parents, but is a  terrific introduction to language development that is very well produced and easily digestible. It is also inexpensive, and recommended for purchase as it will be of ongoing use.]
  2. Cattell, R. (2007) Children's Language: Consensus & Controversy (2nd ed). London: Continuum.  [This is a very readable book which outlines the most salient points about communication development and how it has been studied, very clearly. Written in Australia. Recommended.]  Philson library. WL340.2 C36 2007.  An e-book version has been requested. 
  3. Owens, R (2016) Language development : an introduction. (9th ed). Philson Library. Main Collection 401.93 O97 2016. [This is a standard US textbook on the topic. A sound general text, but less broad than Cattell.]
  4. Paltridge , Brian (2012) Discourse Analysis: an Introduction. (2nd ed), London : Bloomsbury Publishing. (Available online).
  5. Crystal, D., Paul Fletcher, Michael Garman (1991) Grammatical analysis of language disability  (2nd ed) San Diego, Calif. : Singular Pub. Group [there is an online source for this book. https://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/handle/10092/5483] 

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Other Information

The teaching staff involved in SpchSci 711 will be: 
Dr Linda Hand (Course Director) Building 507 Rm 2062 Ext 88735 l.hand@auckland.ac.nz
Dr Elaine Ballard. Building 721. Rm 2064 Ext 87502 e.ballard@auckland.ac.nz
Dr Clare McCann Building 721. Rm 314 Ext 85221 c.mccann@auckland.ac.nz

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

The notes of any powerpoint or tutorial material presented in class will be made available on Canvas. Students are expected to access this material before the class concerned.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

You will submit most material for assessment in SpchSci 711 via TurnItIn, which is software designed to detect plagiarism.
Please go through the Academic Integrity module carefully. Recognise that this is about you. Habits of cutting and pasting from online sources have caused trouble for students in the past, even when they did not believe they were plagiarising, so please be aware of this.  If you often can't remember if chunks of your assignment were your own words or had been cut and pasted from others, then you need to change the way you go about writing assignments, from the start. Don't leave it until later.
If you are unsure how to reference properly (and many students are), commit to learning this early. You are post-graduate students, and accurate and appropriate referencing  is now essential knowledge and practice. (self-test: do you know what "cited in" really means, and when to use it?).


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Always collect some evidence of the problem (such as a medical certificate, note from another person involved in an incident or who can vouch for you, etc) if you can. You may not need to use it, but it  can be valuable to have in case you do.  

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 20/08/2021 10:31 a.m.