Assessment in social work: a guide for learning and teaching

Teaching and learning of assessment: Examining student competence in assessment

Examination of student competence in assessment did not emerge as a major set of findings of any of the three main studies and consequently does not occupy a major section of this guide. However, the Salford CSWR study gained some information from the HEI (higher education institute) consultation, with similar findings on methods of evaluating competence from the illustrative study of former students. The following extract describes the information gathered from HEIs:

Two main approaches were identified by participants [HEIs]. First, there were teaching and learning activities such as role play and group presentations which were not formally assessed but were used to assist students in developing their awareness of the use of self. This was undertaken either through the opportunity for self-reflection; through peer review or by tutor feedback.

Second, the main formal assessment was undertaken by assignment, predominantly linked to an area of practice with which the student had a particular interest. It was expected that the student would demonstrate the theoretical understanding of the chosen assessment process or context, highlighting the legal and organisational influences on this. Occasionally this assignment would be linked directly to their work on placement, allowing a more in-depth consideration of the complexities of the task and linking this with their actual practice. Assessment skills were a part of all placement assessments and linked to National Occupational Standards.

Assessment of student practice assessment skills was primarily undertaken by the practice supervisor, although there was evidence of service user involvement in the overall assessment of students’ abilities. This could take various forms, including video and audio evidence by the service users; a pro-forma feedback form provided by the programme or consultation with the practice supervisor and others. Programmes varied in their emphasis on the inclusion of service user feedback, with some having this as an evidence requirement whereas with others it was an expectation. There was limited evidence that service users were asked to comment specifically on the assessment abilities of the student, however the qualities commented on were valuable constituent elements of the assessment process, for example communication skills. (Shardlow et al, 2005, p 28)

A number of the teaching methods described in the preceding section may be used as assessment media and examples of this are evident in the extract above.

Questions for educators

  • How may the analysis of assessment in this guide inform implementation of the requirements for competence in assessment set down for the social work degree by the respective national care councils?
  • What arrangements or plans are there for a service user contribution to the evaluation of students’ assessment skills?

Next: Whose contributions are needed in assessment teaching?