Date of Award

Fall 10-29-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

EdD Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Luke Stedrak, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Gutmore, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Nina Capone Singleton, Ph.D.


Feeding & Swallowing, Dysphagia, Children, Public-School, Speech-Language Pathologist, Training Needs, Education Needs, Roles & Responsibilities, Administrator Support, Educationally-Relevant


Over the past two decades, the number of children who have dysphagia attending public schools has increased significantly. Because more students with special needs are requiring these services, providing dysphagia management exclusively in the medical setting has become a thing of the past. With this transition, public-school SLPs need to be prepared and confident to provide this service should they encounter a child on their caseload with feeding and swallowing issues. The few studies that have been done up to this point have revealed concerns regarding gaps in training and overall confidence of SLPs to perform this function in the public school. However, no recent studies have identified trends in the types of dysphagia tasks that public-school SLPs are responsible for nationally or measured the confidence these SLPs possess to engage in each feeding and swallowing activity. Furthermore, unanswered questions remain as to the type and degree of education and experience that public-school SLPs have with dysphagia. This information is vital to understanding the current dysphagia training needs of SLPs to safely and efficiently provide this service for their students.

This quantitative survey with a cross-sectional design explored these missing elements in the research by answering the following questions:

  1. What are the roles and responsibilities of SLPs regarding feeding and swallowing (dysphagia) in public schools?
  2. Do roles and responsibilities in feeding and swallowing (dysphagia) management vary by school or location?
  3. Are there specific clinical competencies within the scope of school-based dysphagia management that SLPs report having less confidence with for which they may need more training?
  4. Is there a relationship between demographic and professional experience characteristics and levels of perceived confidence in the dysphagia clinical competency areas?
  5. What is the nature of the relationship, if any, between the demographic and professional experience characteristics of public-school SLPs and levels of perceived confidence in the dysphagia clinical competency areas?
  6. Are there significant differences in confidence levels across the dysphagia clinical competencies between SLPs who do dysphagia management in schools and those SLPs who do not?

The study outcomes have profound implications for public-school SLPs and their educational administrators across the United States. The findings highlight specific gaps in public-school SLPs’ dysphagia coursework and clinical training. They also highlight trends in low levels of confidence across dysphagia management tasks that SLPs in public schools are responsible for and that positive correlations exist between professional experience in feeding and swallowing and confidence to perform dysphagia management functions. These data provide clear direction as to what future education and training in dysphagia should include for public-school SLPs who provide feeding and swallowing management and those who do not.