Evaluation of Simulated Social Worker Practice Capability During Covid Lockdown: the Observed Structured Practice Assessment (OSPA)



simulation, OSCE, initial assessment, practice capability assessment.


This paper reports a cross-University (South England) evaluation of an innovative OSCE-style practice capability assessment co-designed and delivered by people with experience, practitioners and educators to social work students whose placements had been fore-shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic context. Our Observed Structured Clinical Assessment (OSPA) simulated the Covid (and now hybrid) context of social work practice incorporating video conferencing online platforms to produce online initial safeguarding and wellbeing assessments. Pedagogically, holistic practice capability was understood through the display of “meta-competencies” (interpersonal and cognitive dimensions) alongside “procedural competencies” (skills and techniques) (Bogo et al., 2010; 2012). Eight volunteering Masters in Social Work students watched a standardised interview (enacted as it typically currently occurs on a video conference platform) alongside standardised telephone interviews with referral-makers and relevant professionals. ‘Triads’ of Expert Panel members rated the students’ written ‘Initial Assessment’ of the person in their environment and ‘Written Critical Reflection’ exploring their judgement-making. The paper reports findings from the outcome measures: the rated questionnaire feedback of the student work; the pre and post-OSPA questionnaires (students’ knowledge, experience, confidence, demographics), and semi-structured qualitative student interviews of their experience of the OSPA and the usefulness of its different activities.

Author Biography

Johanna Woodcock Ross, University of Kent

Lecturer in Social Work & Director of Studies for the Social Work Degree Apprenticeship


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How to Cite

Woodcock Ross, J. (2023). Evaluation of Simulated Social Worker Practice Capability During Covid Lockdown: the Observed Structured Practice Assessment (OSPA) . The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 20(1). Retrieved from https://journals.whitingbirch.net/index.php/JPTS/article/view/1885