Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Service-user led learning and teaching materials for social work education

Keywords: service user, learning and teaching, social work education

Authors: Trish Hafford-Letchfield (London South Bank University); Wendy Couchman (London South Bank University); Kate Leonard, Bee Harris

Theories transmitted to students about professional practice in health and social care are traditionally from the perspective of practitioners, often as a heroic narrative, inevitably casting the service-user in a passive role (Wiltshire 2006). Post-modern theorists like Foucault (1993) call this the authoritative 'gaze' that objectifies the user of public services, generating a power relationship between the professional and the service user.
New perspectives are needed to redress the balance, drawing on the narratives of the service-users (Greenhalgh 2006), and this has been the focus of a project led by service-users at London South Bank University over the last year to develop learning and teaching materials for social work courses.
The project has experimented with creative arts based approaches as research is showing that crossing the boundaries between the social sciences and arts and humanities can help to communicate experiences of trauma, suffering and confusion more powerfully (Schweitzer 2006). The Service-User Steering Group for social work courses is currently commissioning:

The proposed paper would describe the planning process of the Service-User Steering Group and would be presented jointly by a project lead and a member of the Group.

The paper will be of interest to educators across health and social care, who are all trying to involve service users in course planning, delivery and assessment.
It will demonstrate how service-users have generated innovative arts-based approaches for more effective learning, where students, service users and educators learn together.

Date: Friday 25 January 2008, 11.30-12.00

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).