Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education

Appendix A: Summary of methodology

The key stages in the research and development work undertaken to produce this guide are summarised below.

1. An initial scoping exercise

Conversations with academics, practice assessors, social work students, front-line managers in social care, newly qualified workers and service users, with some preliminary reading, provided the framework for the guide development and determined the specific requirements of a SCIE practice review.

2. SCIE research review

Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education by P. Trevithick, S. Richards, G. Ruch and B. Moss

The purpose of the review was:

A search of electronic databases was conducted by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) at the University of York, using search terms agreed by the working group that undertook the review. This generated a vast literature of 8,023 records, mostly relating to communication skills for health professionals. Only the 61 records relating to the teaching and learning of communication skills for social care professionals were included in the review, with additional material identified by hand searching key journals and from group members’ personal libraries.

The review focuses on two main areas:

3. SCIE practice review

SCIE commissioned a practice review, Teaching and learning in social work: Communication, by A. Dinham, C. Aymer, T. Okitikpi, A. Goodyer and B. Randall (2003), unpublished, London: SCIE. The full findings of the review can be found in this guide in Appendix B, p 54.

The practice review was carried out over three months using mixed methods, consisting of a survey using semi-structured interviews with academics, focus groups with other stakeholders, and small-scale case studies using web searches, semi-structured interviews and focus groups to build up a portfolio of examples of practice.

The practice review investigated practice in teaching and learning and assessment of communication skills in social work from the perspectives of all the stakeholders: academics, practice assessors, students, adult and child service users and carers.

4. Drawing on related resources

SCIE research and practice review reports provide the main text for this guide with additional material as referenced. Other closely related SCIE publications that appear in this work and that are available separately are Involving service users and carers in the social work degree (SCIE, 2003) and A framework for supporting and assessing practice learning (SCIE Position paper 2, www.scie.org.uk).

5. Reference group

Representatives of key stakeholder groups were brought together early in the project to advise and comment at key stages in the guide development. Group members were able to give their individual professional or service user view but also contributed a collective dialogue between key stakeholders.

6. Consultation and quality assurance

The research and practice reviews were subject to an internal SCIE and external independent assessment process. Consultation on the final draft of the guide was undertaken with reference group members, the Practice Learning Taskforce, authors from the research and practice review teams and our sponsors from the Department of Health and Welsh Assembly.

7. Dissemination and implementation

Copies of the guide and information about how to access the electronic guide have been sent to all HEIs offering the degree in social work in the UK. Further copies have been circulated to local authority training managers in England, post-qualifying courses in Practice Teaching, service user training organisations and links to the electronic guide are cited on the SCIE website (www.scie.org.uk), SWAPltsn (www.swap.ac.uk) and the National Organisation for Practice Teaching (www.nopt.org).

SCIE will maintain contact with key stakeholders after publication to assist with the implementation of the materials. The interactive links on the electronic guide/website will be used to aid and monitor implementation.

8. Evaluation and review

When the first of the degree courses has been completed, SCIE will review teaching and learning communication skills and this will include an assessment of the use and value of the guide.