Research Abstracts: PQSW qualification

Title: The conundrum of balancing widening participation with the selection of suitable students for social work education.
Author: Dillon, Jean
Reference: Social Work Education, 26(8), December 2007, pp.827-84.

This paper examines how increased diversity through widening participation to higher education in England can be aligned to the selection of suitable students for social work education. It considers the implications of an educational policy directive to widen access and new professional entry requirements for social work training introduced in 2003. The assessment of students for social work is explored by drawing upon findings from a small scale survey of social work admissions tutors and examples of admissions practice. Written from the perspective of a social work admissions tutor at an outer London post-1992 university, the paper discusses the opportunities and challenges that social work programmes may face when endeavouring to balance widening participation with professional requirements for entry into social work training.

Title: Factors affecting the retention of learners following the degree in social work at a university in the south-east of England.
Author: Hafford-Letchfield, Trish
Reference: Learning in Health and Social Care, 6(3), September 2007, pp.170-184.

Changes to the education and training for social workers in England, UK since 2003 have increased the number and widened the pool of students encouraged to enter the profession via higher education. Social work education is very much linked to increasing diversity in work-force development where an agenda to build a well-motivated and skilled work-force can in turn provide good quality services and interventions reflecting the diverse needs of service users and carers. This paper reports on a small-scale study which explored factors affecting the potential success of students following a vocational education programme leading to the degree in social work. Using in-depth face-to-face interviews with a sample of seven students and a focus group with eight social work tutors, within a qualitative framework, the experiences of learning and teaching were explored from the participants’ subjective viewpoints. The study highlighted several factors found to potentially impact on student success in social work education and compared these with the published literature relating to both widening participation and diversity in learning. Factors impacting were student organization and time-management skills access to study skill support their relationships with tutors and peers and the impact of affective factors on the learning process. This study forms a useful basis for determining areas for intervention to improve the potential of success on the degree and the challenges anticipated in implementing these for students from diverse and non-traditional backgrounds. Although this study related specifically to social work education, the findings may be transferable to other vocational education professions in the health and social care sector.

Title: A teaching framework for transformative multicultural social work education .

Author: Yee-Lee, Mo; Greene Gilbert J.
Reference: Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 12(3), 2003, pp.1-27.

Abstract: A major challenge in multicultural social work education is fostering meaningful learning experiences for students by matching educational methods and content to students’ individual learning needs and characteristics. Building upon transformative learning theory developed by Jack Mezirow, this paper proposes a teaching framework for transformative multicultural social work education that addresses students’ individual learning needs and characteristics. This framework uses the dimensions of cultural knowledge and cultural sensitivity to represent four potential stances of cross-cultural learning in students. The paper provides a detail discussion regarding the learning needs and learning foci of students at each stance, and useful teaching strategies and activities that enhance students’ transformative learning process so that they develop integrative knowledge about self and others in a dynamic multicultural society from multiple perspectives.

Title: Diversity and difference in the field education encounter: racial minority students in the practicum.
Author: Razack, Narda
Reference: Social Work Education, 20(2), April 2001, pp.219-232.

Abstract: The practicum in social work oftentimes induces fear, anxiety, tension and excitement. Additional concerns occur for racial minority students given historical treatment and present realities since racism and discrimination are embedded within the structures of dominant societies. This study describes the experiences of racial minority students in the practicum. The findings reveal the different experiences of students according to agency, field instructor and the context of work. More importantly, questions emerged around student identity, professionalism and the realities of practice. The survey responses are analysed together with a focus group discussion where students described subtle, pervasive and blatant forms of discrimination, prejudice and racism. Positive student experiences were also shared and are incorporated for change. Practical suggestions are offered as well as the need to introduce more in-depth analyses of oppression, colonisation and imperialism in field education.

Title: Adapting social work education to student diversity: the use of the Myers-Briggs type indicator in curriculum development.

Author: Moore, Linda S.; Dietz, Tracey J.; Jenkins David A.
Reference: Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 16(1/2), 1998, pp.179-201.

Abstract: Basic differences in temperament, learning styles, motivation, and interaction styles have major impacts on people yet receive little attention in social work education. This article discusses educational considerations in implementing a “type-sensitive” curriculum in social work education including strategies for using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to differentiate learning styles and strategies for facilitating educators’ and students’ ability to appreciate these differences. It examines the ways in which differences in type can complement each other in the educational process.

Title: Effective practice learning in social work

Author: Parker, Jonathan
Publisher: Exeter: Learning Matters, 2004. 131p.,bibliog.

The new honours degree level qualification for social work practice emphasises the centrality of practice learning, and the Department of Health requirements for the degree state clearly that all students must undertake at least 200 days in direct practice learning during their programme of study. Practice learning often raises great anxieties for students, agencies and those who facilitate, supervise and assess it. This book addresses some of those anxieties and provides an introduction and guide to the process. It also explores ways in which the experience can deliver a unique learning opportunity for the student. The book will be useful for social work students who are undertaking or about to undertake practice learning, and for student supervisors and practice assessors.

Title: Who wants to be a social worker? Using routine published data to identify trends in the numbers of people applying for and completing social work programmes in England.
Author: Moriary, Jo; Murray, Jo
Reference: British Journal of Social Work, 37(4), June 2007, pp.715-733.

Despite widely reported problems with recruitment and retention, there is surprisingly little published research investigating the numbers of people wishing to enter social work and their demographic characteristics. This article uses routinely collected published higher education data and reports produced by the General Social Care Council (GSCC) and its predecessor the Central Council Education for Education and Training in Social Work (CCETSW) to look at recent trends in the numbers of people wishing to become social workers. It argues that information on the overall numbers of people applying each year is less helpful than understanding more about which groups are under-represented in social work and why. It also draws attention to some positive indicators, such as the comparative success of social work in attracting groups who may currently be under-represented in higher education. In addition to suggesting that we need to know more about the numbers and types of people applying to be social workers, it concludes that additional work is required in establishing employment patterns among the social work workforce as a whole. For example, a high proportion of newly qualified social workers take up paid employment in social work, but little is known about what happens to them at later stages of their career.

Title: Helping students starting a social work qualifying programme to learn more effectively.
Author: Watkins, Mary; Warnes, Mark
Reference: Social Work Education, 25(7), October 2006, pp.694-709.

This paper gives an account of how Meyer’s Reflections on Learning Inventory (RoLI) was used with groups of UK social work students embarking on their professional training in higher education, to assist them to reflect on their approaches to learning and the implications for their chosen career. Social work students were offered the opportunity to complete an inventory during the induction week of their qualifying award programme. Ninety-four students participated in the RoLI in Induction in two sites (Cambridge n=35 and Chelmsford=59). They were provided with an analysis, which they then discussed with their tutor. As a result of this, students were required to produce a brief plan outlining what they had learned and how they could address any issues arising. The original profiles of the students were compared with their end of first year assessments. The RoLIs were found to be a sound indicator of those students ‘at risk’ of failing and proved a useful trigger for reflection on learning for most students.

Title: Diversity and progression in social work education in England: a report on progression rates among DipSW students
Author: Hussein, Shereen et al.
Publisher: London: General Social Care Council, 2006. 10p., bibliog., booklet

The aim was to identify some of the successes and challenges experienced by different universities and colleges in developing strategies to support students at greater risk of poorer progression in their studies. This is part of a wider project being carried out by the GSCC in collaboration with representation from JUC SWECSCIE REU SWAP and Kings College Social Care Workforce Research Unit. Other elements of the project include further data analysis comparing DipSW and new degree progression, and a focus group with service users and carers and students.

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