• An exploration of issues affecting the assessment of social work students on practice placement in England

      Caffrey, Bridget; Fruin, Helen; University of Chester (Whiting and Birch, 2019-05-09)
      This article explores issues affecting assessment of social work students on practice placements in England. The authors have many years of experience in this area of social work and aim to highlight concerns about the complexity of assessment in practice settings. This report draws on research presented by Bailey-McHale and Caffrey (2018) at the 12th International Conference on Practice Teaching and Field Education in Health and Social Work in order to consider student perspectives. These highlight a sense of feeling powerless and judged. This article also explores the wider issues potentially impacting on the assessment of students practice. Acknowledging the challenges of all assessments, we consider how assessment of student practice may be further complicated by factors including the role and demands of universities, the impact of training and support for practice educators and pressures within current social work practice. This commentary highlights longstanding inequalities within social work assessment on placements for some student groups, including BAME students. The authors draw on Brookfield’s (1998) reflective lenses and encourage the social work profession to reflect and consider how current practice might be improved. The authors invite ideas and feedback to stimulate a professional debate and new ideas.
    • The use of photo elicitation to explore the impact of social work student’s perceptions of placements on social work tutors and consider their role in practice learning

      Caffrey, Bridget; Fruin, Helen; Bailey-McHale, Julie; Ridgeway, Victoria; Bailey-McHale, Bex; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2020-12-22)
      The importance of learning in practice is acknowledged across health and social care professions. Social work students’ experiences in practice settings has attracted some attention in academic literature, and the role and impact of the Practice Educator (PE) on student learning is increasingly recognised. However, there is a paucity of research examining the role of the social work tutor generally and particularly within practice learning settings. This paper presents a small-scale qualitative study exploring the impact of visual images produced by social work students reflecting their practice experiences on six social work tutors. Photo elicitation prompted discussion in a focus group setting which was subsequently thematically analysed, with four themes emerging. These were dichotomous relationships, difference and diversity, tutor brokerage skills, and student support. The images encouraged tutors to reflect upon the complexity of their relationship with social work students and question whether they were professionally equipped to support students in complex placement situations. In addition, the effectiveness of the curriculum in preparing social work students for practice was considered, particularly space afforded to students to reflect on practice learning in a safe environment. Opportunities to support SW tutors in their role and SW students in practice are deliberated.
    • Using visual methodology: Social work student's perceptions of practice and the impact on practice educators.

      Bailey-McHale, Julie; Bailey-McHale, Rebecca; Caffrey, Bridget; Macleand, Siobhan; Ridgway, Victoria; University of Chester; Kirwin Maclean Associates (Taylor & Francis, 2018-06-21)
      Practice learning within social work education plays a significant part in students’ educational journey. Little is understood about the emotional climate of placements. This paper presents a small scale qualitative study of 13 social work students’ perceptions of their relationship with a practice educator (PE) and 6 PE’s perceptions of these emotional experiences. Visual methodology was employed over a two-phased research project, first social work students were asked to draw an image of what they thought practice education looked like, phase two used photo eliciation, PEs were then asked to explore the meaning of these images. Results demonstrated that social work students focused on their own professional discourse, the identity of PEs, power relationship and dynamics between themselves and PEs, the disjointed journey and practice education in its entirity. Whilst the PEs shared their personal views of practice education and reflected on this, both groups had a shared understanding of practice education including its values and frustrations. Keywords: social work placements, visual methodology, practice educators