Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Not just for romance: applications of speed dating in social work education

Keywords: speed dating, groupwork

Authors: Associate Professor Beth Crisp (Health and Social Development, Deakin University); Dr Jane Maidment (Health and Social Development, Deakin University)

Speed dating is a new social phenomenon which has emerged over the past decade or so. Participants are involved in a series of short encounters in which the intention is explicit. Adaptations of this technique in the education setting have been used with groups of students for various reasons including as a "getting to know you" type exercise, to encourage peer teaching of course content, and exam revision.

Speed dating requires all students to participate in discussions, and can be particularly effective in large classes when one is trying to get students to articulate their own opinions on an issue or share their reflections. As with any method of group discussion, exchanging ideas has the potential to encourage participants either to change their views or may help them become more confident about their own ideas. This may be particularly helpful for students who are shy or lack confidence to participate in large group discussions. The brevity of each encounter also requires students to focus on the topic of conversation and leaves no time for discussion of extraneous issues.

In this workshop, the authors will introduce participants to the concept of speed dating through an experiential exercise, as well as discussing how they have used it to a) engage beginning social work students on the topic of study skills, and b) to debrief students on their first return to the university after commencing a lengthy practice learning placement. While some might argue that the concept of speed dating is frivolous, our experience has been that it has been an effective and enjoyable way to engage students around subject matter that is often difficult to deal with in the classroom. Finally, we propose that speed dating has potential applications in professional practice beyond the classroom setting.

Encouraging student discussions which meaningfully involve all members of the class and which remain focussed on the topic, is increasingly difficult in an era of increasingly large class sizes in higher education. While this seminar is primarily aimed at educators, the group processes involved in speed dating are also applicable to other practitioners who work with groups.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 3.30-4.30

Venue: Harris One

Return to list of abstracts

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