SCIE Knowledge review 01: Learning and teaching assessment skills in social work education
By Beth Crisp, Mark Anderson, Joan Orme and Pam Green Lister
Published: November 2003
In 2003 the social work qualifying course became a three-year degree. The Department of Health set out requirements for social work training1 in which it identified five core areas that all students must undertake specific learning and assessment on. The assessment of a service user's needs is one of these.
Social worker involvement in the assessment process may include establishing need or eligibility for services, seeking evidence of past events or determining the likelihood of future danger, it may underpin recommendations to other agencies, or may determine the suitability of other service providers.
SCIE is reviewing the evidence for good practice in the teaching and learning of all five core areas and this review is the first in the series.
This knowledge review was conducted to identify good practice in the teaching and learning of assessment in social work qualifying courses to assist social work educators in developing teaching frameworks. However, a lack of evaluated teaching methods has made it difficult to recommend one or more approaches to teaching assessment skills. As a result, this review makes recommendations to guide the development of good practice in this aspect of the social work curriculum.
This knowledge review will help people who teach social work (that is, academics, practice teachers and service users) in developing a framework for teaching communications skills. It will also help researchers by identifying areas where more information is needed. The review may also be of interest to students and social care workers.
Messages from the knowledge review
While we are unable to recommend the best way to teach assessment skills, the following points may guide the development of good practice in teaching assessment skills:
- Social work programmes need to ensure that graduating social workers understand the principles of assessment. While particular frameworks and assessment tools may be used as models, teaching which focuses primarily on these runs the risk of producing social workers whose assessment skills are not transferable to other settings and client groups.
- Programme providers should be able to articulate how learning objectives for assessment skills are to be achieved, even if the teaching of assessment is embedded into the curriculum rather than taught as a separate component.
- Students need opportunities to apply theoretical learning on assessment. This can occur in both university-based practice learning and in supervised practice learning.
- Social work programme providers should work in partnership with other key stakeholders, including employers and service user organisations, to ensure that students learn a range of perspectives about the assessment process.
- Social work programmes need to ensure that graduates have knowledge of the assessment process and are able to draw on a broader repertoire of social work skills and social science knowledge when undertaking assessments.
1: DH (Department of Health) (2002). Requirements for social work training, London: DH.