Practice makes perfect: Designing Integrated Learning Experiences in Social Work Education using Laurillard’s ‘Conversational Framework’ for Learning
Providing an integrated curriculum in social work education is a complex task and the profession has long struggled with how best to link knowledge and practice in qualifying studies. This prompted the author to design a unit of study inspired by Laurillard’s seminal ‘Conversational Framework’ for learning, which suggests that opportunities for questioning and dialogue with an expert provide a pivotal mechanism for integrating learning. In this model discussions need to be hard wired into experiential learning opportunities; both of which must occur simultaneously. Bespoke e-learning curriculum materials were, therefore, developed to be studied alongside an experience of social work and dialogue with practitioners. The unit was located on a Step up to Social Work (child and family) qualifying programme, delivered jointly with partner local authorities, which meant that greater access to practitioners was possible. Realist evaluation analysis of student feedback suggests that being able to synchronously draw on learning from experiencing practice and bespoke academic input, in dialogue with practitioners, can help students to develop more integrated understandings of the skills and knowledge required for social work practice.
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