Opening the black box of social work field assessments: Developing supported learning strategies through the use of digital technologies

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Hallie, Jason
Tunnicliffe, Craig
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Conference Contribution - Oral Presentation
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
social work field education
social work education
online support
Social Work Registration Board (N.Z.)
reflective learning
change management
Hallie, J.A., & Tunnicliffe, C. (2021, May). Opening the black box of social work field assessments: Developing supported learning strategies through the use of digital technologies. Paper presented at the Te Manawa Reka – Curiosity Symposium, Tauranga.
Field education can be seen as the signature pedagogy of social work (CSWE, 2008). It is the time where “real world” learning is used to connect taught theory to actual practice, and where students are guided by an experienced practitioner as they develop their competencies to practice social work. For students entering their first field education experience this can be a time of great uncertainty and anxiety. Literature highlights multiple methods of assessing students’ practice development including portfolios of evidence, case studies, critical reflection, direct observation, focus groups and interviews. Most of these assessment methods are undertaken by field education staff at the end of placement after students have completed their required number of days. This it is argued, creates a “black-box” in relation to the evaluative process. The concept of a black box is drawn from the study of science and technology, which describes a system or process which is only viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs without any knowledge of its internal workings. This presentation describes a process of change undertaken by the field education team within a social practice degree in Aotearoa New Zealand. It explores pedagogical approaches to field education and strategies that have been developed to make the assessment of field education supportive, reflective, transparent, and relevant. It will highlight the ways that available open-source digital technologies can be employed to open the black-box of field education assessment.
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