Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Mirror, mirror on the wall who enhances integration of learning most of all?

Keywords: learning,bridging theory-practice, student experience

Authors: Doctor Gary Clapton (University of Edinburgh); Mrs Ruth Forbes (University of Edinburgh)

This paper reports on a study that takes forward work on the integration of learning for practice. Between 2003 and 2005, colleagues from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow Caledonian and practice agencies studied how best to enhance the social work students' integration of learning for practice as part of the larger SIESWE-sponsored Learning for Effective and Ethical Practice (LEEP) initiative (Clapton and Cree 2004). We have already reported on our experiment in bridging the theory-practice divide involving academics based in practice agencies during students' placements (Clapton et al 2006, Clapton et al 2007).

This paper continues the exploration of the elements that might come together to maximise student learning. This time we are looking at the entire span of the student learning experience during qualifying training. Specifically, our paper will share findings from the views of newly-qualified social workers who have been asked to identify the most helpful figure, or figures, relating to their integration of learning. We have asked for consideration of every aspect of their student experiences: from classroom to practice learning, in tutorials, with other individual students/ peer groups, family or friends.

We are seeking to identify who, what (and the when of this) helps in that crucial light bulb moment when every thing just clicks.

This presentation will add to the body of knowledge and interest in the conditions which promote students' integration of learning. It will present the voice of the student in its analysis of the relationships which have promoted their constructive engagement with the learning process. The presentaiton will be of interest to academics, practitioners and Practice Teachers.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 3.30-4.00

Venue: Carrick One

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