There were lots of good sessions when I was at ASHA this year and just as many helpful ones when I was attending and presenting at ISHA. As usual, many were discussing research or new studies. Sessions that I attended that sounded like they would be discussing new techniques or practical ideas, usually just ended up talk about the research behind a technique or compare studies between two treatments, nothing that I could really take back to my kids on Monday and put into practice. Now, there were some very good ones that had practical, useable ideas, but there weren’t a lot. EBP, for years the ‘E’ stood for evidence. Today I ask, why can’t the ‘E’ stand for experience based practice?
Now before things get heated, I just want to say I am not knocking Evidence Based Practice or research. We need them to learn, create, and shape new techniques and technology. I am simply saying when it comes down to it, why can’t experience be just as important as evidence? At ASHA I met so many amazing people. One person was a professor who wondered what evidence I based some of my TpT activities on. I stood there for a second because I wasn’t sure how to answer. While I do have some materials that hours of research went into, many of my activities are based on what my kids need and what has worked, not on an article I read or chart I studied. Does that make them any less effective or engaging? No, not in my opinion.
I learned what would be the foundation for my career in grad school, from professors lecturing about research, theory, and evidence base practice. However, what has taught me the most has been all the days I have spent working with clients/students trying this and that to see what works and what doesn’t, attending workshops on how to use therapy tools or being trained in new techniques, and reading blog posts about what other SLPs have tried. I read a blog post by the late, great, Pam Marshalla on how to elicit vocalic /r/ and I tell you it was amazing! Guess what, it was based on experience. Does that mean the information isn’t worthwhile? No. The article is here if you want to take a look and if you are working on /r/ with any kiddos I highly recommend you do.
My point for writing this is hoping to encourage you to not dismiss blog posts, TpT activities, or CEU sessions because they may not be evidenced-based, but are experienced-based instead. I am hoping to raise the point that evidence and experience do not out way each other, but go hand in hand. After all, it was probably someone’s experience that helped to inspire the need for evidence.
How do you feel about all of this? Do you think experience or evidence is more important, or are they equal?