The Relationship between Competence-based and Reflective Learning Approaches to Education within the Diploma in Social Work.

  • Teresa de Villiers

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The relationship between competence-based and reflective learning approaches within UK qualifying social work education and training has long been a source of concern. Unease has been expressed that a competence-based model of teaching, learning and assessment that is grounded in a technical rational conceptualisation of social work has gained pre-eminence and has marginalised a more thoughtful, critical and creative reflective learning approach. At the very least, the two approaches have been discussed in terms of tension if not outright incompatibility. Using a multiple case study research design, this thesis explores the relationship between the two approaches as perceived by students, practice assessors and programme personnel (tutors and partner agency representatives) from three separate DipSW programmes in England and Wales. The research explores the understandings by educators and students of each approach:
    whether the approaches were seen as contradictory or as complementary and where and how each approach - or combined use of the two - was recognised as informing each of the social work programmes considered. A further line of enquiry relates to whether the two approaches were seen as promoting different forms of professional identity in qualifying social work practitioners. The research findings suggest that the nature of the relationship between the two approaches lies within, and is contextualised by, a series of other relationships which influence and inform each programme. The relationships between teaching, learning and assessment, between education and training, between the university and the agency bases, between critical and functional forms of reflection and between the respective approaches and different forms of post-qualifying professional identity emerge as significant, as does the relationship between what is espoused by educators and what is practised.
    Date of AwardJul 2008
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRuth Northway (Supervisor)

    Cite this