Patrick Walden, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Speech-Language Professor Taps Technology

Since joining St. John’s faculty in 2008, Patrick Walden, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has introduced several technology-driven learning initiatives to enhance his students’ learning experience. They include a video-enhanced online education course and a continuing research study that enables students to gather data through in-person meetings with subjects. 

First offered in Fall 2011, his course — Observation Skills in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology — develops students’ clinical observation skills by means of video-taped therapy sessions led by leaders in the field. Dr. Walden put the course online to give his students access to a wider variety of therapy sessions than they otherwise would be able to observe. The material is drawn from Dr. Walden’s and other professors’ own practices as well as from commercially available videos.

“Ensuring that everyone is looking at the same thing allows instructors to point out why certain practices are more effective than others,” said Dr. Walden. “It results in more exciting and informative, interactive discussions.” Students supplement their video viewing by doing seven hours of field observation. 

Dr. Walden is currently using a Faculty Growth Grant he received from the Center for Teaching and Learning to take a course in video editing. “I am committed to continuing to find ways to use technology to enrich my teaching,” he said. His immediate goals are to add voice overs and expand the video by updating existing recordings of sessions conducted at the Speech and Hearing Center in Queens. “One of my long-term goals,” he added, “is to create a comprehensive video archive as a resource tool for future students.” 

In addition, by leveraging the Staten Island campus’s upgraded Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Laboratory, Dr. Walden was able to design and implement a new independent research project. The study compares the amount of air leaving the nose versus the mouth during speech, depending on age, gender and geographic accent. Using the lab’s sophisticated, acoustic-enhanced equipment, Alexa Lazzarotti ’13C is among the students testing subjects in person.

Lazzarotti is studying a cross-section of Staten Island residents. Future student researchers will measure these patterns in subjects from the South.

“The experience is giving me the chance to learn how to use the kinds of equipment I’ll need to master as a professional,” said Alexa. “It’s also helping to differentiate me from other graduate school applicants in my field.”