SCIE Knowledge review 09: Learning and teaching in social work education: Textbooks and frameworks on assessment
By Beth Crisp, Mark Anderson, Joan Orme and Pam Green Lister
Published: April 2005
In 2003, SCIE published Knowledge review 01: Learning and teaching assessment skills in social work education report. This previous knowledge review was primarily focused on how learning and teaching occurred in the classroom and in practice learning settings. In the conclusion, the authors noted that learning and teaching about assessment can occur through other mediums, and noted the potential of textbooks and assessment frameworks.
Textbooks tend to be criticised for their lack of depth but, because of their wide readership, they are highly influential on students and practitioners. However, over the last decade or so, assessment has increasingly involved the use of standardised frameworks.
This review seeks to determine what social work students might learn about assessment from textbooks and frameworks. It aims to be a resource for social work educators in developing a curriculum and selecting textbooks.
The knowledge review is for social work educators who are responsible for teaching assessment, especially those who are responsible for developing the curriculum and selecting textbooks. Some of the findings will have implications for educators who write textbooks and assessment frameworks. It may also be of interest to students, practitioners and service users.
Messages from the knowledge review
Recommendations for all readers
- Legislative, policy and practice contexts change, and textbooks and frameworks may be out of date.
- Some textbooks, especially those published overseas, reflect different contexts for social work. However, such textbooks may still offer useful insights, especially on topics poorly covered in local literature.
- UK readers should bear in mind that there are differences in legislation and practice organisation between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Reading textbooks and frameworks is just a first step. Undertaking the learning exercises they contain, discussing concepts and practices in supervision, and ultimately putting theory into practice are all further steps in becoming a skilled practitioner.
Recommendations for social work educators
- Students and inexperienced practitioners need opportunities to learn how to apply what they read, ideally in some form of supervised practice.
- You should be clear about your reasons for choosing particular textbooks or assessment frameworks.
- Bear in mind the limitations of the textbooks and frameworks you recommend. In particular, make sure you are aware of any changes in policy, legislation or practitioners' expectations that might outdate or supersede information. You may need to tell students/practitioners about such changes or recommend further reading.
Recommendations for authors
- Define your audience and write accordingly. It is reasonable to assume some prior knowledge as long as you make it clear that you are not giving an introduction to the basics. You could recommend alternatives for beginners.
- Define concepts such as assessment, for which there is no single definition.
- Include case studies and learning exercises to encourage more active learning.
- Explicitly discuss the bases of your theory and evidence. They might be obvious to you, but not to the reader!
- Recognise constraints such as word limits, and suggest recommended further reading on key topics.