An evaluation of student social workers’ experience of observational learning
The University of the West of Scotland utilises a model of Observational Practice Learning in the first two years of the BA (Hons) Social Work Programme. The theoretical framework used in developing this model of learning was that of reflective and transformative learning. This paper outlines our evaluation of these observational experiences in order to demonstrate how it aids students in merging practical and theoretical learning and examine whether it assists students in the development of the reflective skills required for assessed practice learning. Using a qualitative approach, we set out to evaluate the students’ perceptions and experiences of observational learning.
The evaluation has shown that Observational Practice Learning enables students to make links between teaching and practice, with mentors, service users and tutors playing a pivotal role in developing students’ self awareness and prompting reflective thinking. Such experiences appear to have assisted in preparing students more effectively for their assessed practice learning opportunities later in the degree programme.