Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Increasing social work's evidence base: the development of a social work wiki to aid in the further conceputalization of social work's tacit knowledge (practice wisdom) so it moves up the evidence hierarchy and/or becomes more available for further evidence testing

Keywords: learning community for social work, tacit knowledge (practice wisdom), communities of practice, increasing social work's evidence base

Author: Dr Harriet W Meek (New Mexico State University)

The creation of a wiki being used in the development of a learning community of social work practitioners will be described. This learning community is attempting to add to the conceptualization of social work's tacit knowledge (practice wisdom) so that eventually this knowledge can be tested at a higher level and its evidence strength increased. Much of social work knowledge has not been tested in this manner or even conceptualized so that such testing is possible; it seems important to bring our tacit wisdom further up the hierarchy (taxonomy) of evidence strength. Our developing group of social work practitioners is experienced in direct practice but not necessarily sophisticated in research methods or technology. Some of the triumphs and obstacles in the development of this new learning organization will be discussed. Audience input is welcomed.

We are constantly being encouraged to use evidence based methods, but many of our time-honored methods and tacit knowledge have not been tested, or even conceptualized in a way that allows testing at a high level of evidence strength. Practitioners need to be involved in this process; researchers are often not close enough to direct practice to understand the detail of what is needed. At the same time practitioners are often uncomfortable with the idea that they might do research. The creation of this learning community attempts to bridge some of these gaps.

Date: Friday 25 January 2008, 1.30-2.00

Venue: Carrick Two

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