Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Introducing students to a practice setting: university and field staff jointly evaluate students' readiness for practice

Keywords: Preparation for practice, evaluating readiness, field/University enterprise

Authors: Mrs Ruth Forbes (University of Edinburgh); Mrs Maura Daly (Circle Scotland)

Stemming from the introduction of the new Honours Degree in Social Work, the University of Edinburgh in conjunction with practice partner agencies devised a pre- practicum experience for social work students. The initiative is now in its fourth year, and this workshop will present the rationale, the planning and the outcomes of this evolving model.

The overarching aim of this venture is to provide an evaluated pre-practice opportunity (SiSWE 2003) as part of the Learning for Practice course which is jointly delivered by field based practice teachers and University based tutors. The 15 days Introduction to Practice Settings has been created to offer students a constructive engagement with social work agencies; time to hear and observe the reality of social work practice and the opportunity to consider the service user and carer perspective. Students do not undertake direct practice but are provided with the opportunity to assimilate pertinent practice issues without the pressure of assessment. Feedback from the supporting Practice Teacher contributes to the overall evaluation of the student's readiness to practice. A dialogue between University and the practice field is created by a shared responsibility in the consideration of student readiness. The other factors of this readiness appraisal are University based, drawing upon student engagement, attainment and self assessment.

Key aspects of this initiative will be presented by a University tutor and agency based Practice Teacher and will include the organisational implications, the variety of opportunities piloted and the emerging issues in relation to student readiness to practice. Fundamental to this workshop will be the voice of the student provided via short excerpts of films made by the students in order to illustrate their experiences and contribute to each others learning (SiSWE 2003).

This presentation will demonstrate how the new Social Work degree has encouraged developments in students' preparation for practice learning and how a joint initiative between between field and University staff has created a constructive vehicle for assessing students' readiness for practice.

Intended audience - academics, practitioners and Practice Teachers.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 2.30-3.00

Venue: Carrick Three

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).