A Practice-based Curriculum for Reflective Learning in Social Work.

Adi Staempfli, Lecturer in Social Work in the Department Social, Therapeutic and Community Studies (STaCS) outlines his successful TaLIC Fellowship 2016-17 bid:

adi_staempfiThe challenge for social work is to find ways to integrate knowing, doing and values in and for a complex and uncertain practice world and social workers need to continually develop their competence. In his PhD research, Adi Staempfli therefore addresses the question: How can social workers be best supported to continuously develop their professional knowledge, skills and values and integrate these with their practice? 

Adi Staempfli adopts a practice based perspective (Schatzki et al., 2001) and explores the literature on profession and professionalism and suggests that reflexive professionalism, in which different forms of knowledge are integrated, is required. His thesis further analyses learning theories in relation to the development of competence and the role of reflection.

There is “a considerable body of research on how expertise … is developed” that suggests that intuitive skills “are essentially derived from experience”.  But experience alone is not sufficient.  It needs to be underpinned by reflection to enable learning, which is “best achieved in conversation with others, in supervision … or in discussions with colleagues“ (Munro, 2011: 87).  A reflective learning approach supports the integration of knowing, doing and values, if it focuses on “ways that ‘speak’ to the situations regularly encountered in social work” (Trevithick, 2011: 140).  Therefore, an approach to learning that is organised around practice situations is called for.

Adi Staempfli suggests that a focus on typical and reoccurring practice situations in reflective learning in and for practice, as proposed in the Key Situations in Social Work model (Tov, Kunz & Staempfli, 2016; Staempfli, Kunz & Tov, 2012) offers such an approach that builds on notions of reflective and evidence-informed practice, problem-based, situated and blended learning around key situations.  It combines individual, social and organisational learning in communities of practice  with a virtual platform on which the situations are shared (Staempfli, et al., 2016).  The innovative approach is applied in several universities in German-speaking regions in Europe and has been successfully piloted in three Local Authorities in London. The model offers an innovative form of continuous professional development.

However, there is no systematic account of what these key situations in English social work are. The author therefore applies a modified DACUM (developing a curriculum) method to describe these in a participatory action research project together with experienced social workers. The Teaching and Learning Fellowship grant enables him to run a series of workshops and the expected outcome will be a collection of titles and characteristics of key situations in English social work. These will then form the basis for reflections and offer a situational knowledge categorisation on the virtual platform.

For further information on the model visit the project homepage (German), the English home page, or watch this video that explains the Key Situation approach.

If you are an experienced social worker interested in contributing to this innovative research please contact a.staempfli@gold.ac.uk.

References

MUNRO, E. 2011. The Munro Review of Child Protection: Final Report. A child-centered system. London: Departement of Education.

SCHATZKI, T., KNORR-CETINA, K. & VON SAVIGNY, E. 2001. The practice turn in contemporary theory., London and New York, Routledge.

STAEMPFLI, A., TOV, E., KUNZ, R., TSCHOPP, D. & EUGSTER STAMM, S. 2016. Improving professionalism through reflection and discourse in communities of practice: The key situations in social work model and project. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 14(2), 59-79.

STAEMPFLI, A., KUNZ, R. & TOV, E. 2012. Creating a bridge between theory and practice: working with key situations. European Journal of Social Education, 22/23, 60-78.

TOV, E., KUNZ, R. & STÄMPFLI, A. 2016. Schlüsselsituationen der Sozialen Arbeit.  Professionalität durch Wissen, Reflexion und Diskurs in Communities of Practice., Bern, hep.

TREVITHICK, P. 2011. The generalist versus specialist debate in social work education in the UK. In: LISHMAN, J. (ed.) Social Work Education. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley, 133-153.

 

 

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