Teaching and learning communication skills: An introduction to those new to higher education: Summary

Published September 2005

By Marie Diggins


SCIE has produced a guide called SCIE Guide 5: Teaching and learning communication skills in social work education to assist all those involved in educating students - lecturers, practice teachers and service users and carers - in teaching communication skills to students.

While programme providers are required to involve service users and carers in planning and delivering the social work degree programme, many service users and carers are not familiar with some of the academic terms used and the way higher education works.


This booklet is an introduction to SCIE Guide 5 for those people who are involved in social work education but who might not be familiar with it. It explains the terminology that is used and summaries the messages from SCIE Guide 5.


This introductory booklet will be useful for service users and carers involved in the design and delivery of the social work degree, and may also be useful for social work students.

Messages from the booklet

The following list of words may assist you in understanding SCIE Guide 5:

Agency-based educators: An agency-based educator is someone who is qualified to support and teach students in the workplace, Agency-based educators can also be called practice assessors.

Assess/assessing: Checking and reviewing the level of skills a person has in a particular area. The word 'evaluate' can also be used.

Assessment: The process where, or the way in which, a person's skills in a particular area are checked and reviewed. The word 'evaluation' can also be used.

Case study: A written description looking at a particular event or situation, describing what happened as objectively as possible.

Curriculum: The programme and topics that are taught as part of a course or degree.

Higher education Institution: A place where further learning (after compulsory schooling) takes place, such as a university or college.

Knowledge reviews: A term used by SCIE. A knowledge review is an evaluation of the existing research and information about a particular area of social care, including a review of how things are currently done and a summary of what works well. Knowledge reviews also tell us which areas need more research.

Learning outcomes: An agreement of what a person should learn from a section of, or all of, a course or degree.

Methodology: A word used to describe the way(s) research is carried out.

Practice: Things done in reality, for example in a work setting.

Practice agency: An organisation that takes on students to allow them to learn in the workplace.

Practice assessors: A person in a practice agency who supports and teaches students to learn in the workplace.

Practice guides: A term used by SCIE. Practice guides are a free resource found on SCIE's website that have information, research and current good practice about particular areas of social care. Practice guides give users the chance to learn more about what works well and use these ideas in their own work.

Practice learning: Learning in the workplace rather than in a university or college.

Qualifying level: The minimum level of education needed for someone to do a particular job.

Quality assurance: Checking that a course, book or service is of a good enough standard to use. There is usually a set way that something goes through quality assurance or becomes quality assured.

Research review: A term used by SCIE. A research review is a review of the research that exists in a particular area of social care.

Resource: In this instance, a book, guide, or collection of information that can be used for learning and teaching.

Role play: Dramatised activity where people take on various characters to think about how to react or handle different situations.

Stakeholders: People who have a particular interest in something because they are affected by it. For example, service users are stakeholders in the new social work degree because the results of the degree will affect the services they get in the future.

Theory: Written information such as research, examples, case studies.

Transferability: How much a skill, information or way of working can be used or be done in a different setting. For example, whether a way of working learnt in universities can be done by people in a real social work setting.


All SCIE resources are free to download, however to access the following download you will need a free MySCIE account:

Available downloads:

  • Teaching and learning communication skills: An introduction to those new to higher education

SCIE also has a number of other resources on social work education.