Social work students' perceptions of readiness to practice: a mixed methods approach

JOUBERT, Marelize (2017). Social work students' perceptions of readiness to practice: a mixed methods approach. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The purpose of this study was to explore how social work students perceive they become ready for the workplace during their three year undergraduate course. The study involved two Higher Education Institutions sites in England and was conducted from September 2013 until June 2016. The work provides a unique contribution in that to date little is known from the perspective of students themselves, about how they perceive they become ready for the workplace This work used an integrated mixed methods methodology that included a mixed methods research synthesis of literature and data that was gathered from a combination of pre- and post- test questionnaires (N=74 participants) and eight semi-structured interviews including the use of pictorial images and drawings. Four meta themes were generated from the integrated data: (i) social worker attributes; (ii) social work development; (iii) critical reflection for theory to practice and finally; (iv) placement learning. The participants described their becoming ready for practice as a developmental journey in which they become more resilient, confident and reflective. The findings reveal the impact of placement settings and key social work practice skills on becoming ready for the workplace. The findings illuminate the perspective of students and reveal they consider becoming resilient an important factor in being able to ‘do’ social work and ‘being’ a social worker depended on having or developing certain attributes. They described resilience as being supported by these attributes and its development challenged and shaped by placement culture. Being supported to become critically reflective was seen as important in being able to ‘fit together’ theory and practice. The students' responses reveal the importance of the role of emotion management and development of self as they engage with their development as a social worker in the changing and complex social work environment. Overall, the findings suggest satisfaction with the social work course although for some they perceived themselves less prepared for most statutory social work positions. A strong wish for tailored support for advice and support during placement was identified and students found peer support useful. The findings raise issues that may be used by academic staff in the preparation of students and practice educators who support social work students on placement by facilitating a supported learning environment that may enhance the social work curriculum. The findings from this study can be used to inform a creative curriculum to enhance student confidence and competence prior to graduation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Gordon, Frances
Additional Information: Director of Studies: Professor Frances Gordon No PQ harvesting.
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
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Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2018 15:57
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 13:38

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