Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education

The SCIE practice review: Teaching and learning in social work: Communication - a summary

This practice review addresses the area of communication skills with children, adults and those with particular communication needs, although it is, of necessity, a general review within its remit and further research could focus more specifically on each group identified.

The work reviews current practice in teaching and learning of communication skills in social work from the perspectives of all the stakeholders: academics, practice assessors, students, service users (including adults and children) and carers.

How are communication skills currently taught and how are they delivered?

How do you distinguish and differentiate between core transferable skills and specific skills, including technical skills?

What is the breadth and depth of skills training needed to perform the range of duties and tasks for beginning practice and for qualifying level?

How do you identify the underpinning principles and values of communication for all categories of social work delivery?

What also emerges is the view that values and principles cannot be taught, only learnt, and that this represents the learner’s transition from 'the personal to the professional’. It is suggested that this takes place best where it is modelled in the culture of the department and setting within which students learn, and specifically through supervision and tutorials where that learning is drawn out and made explicit.