Getting it right in the mix: Teaching social work practice skills inclusively to diverse student groups

Sophie Jennifer Goldingay


Social work has traditionally attracted a diverse mix of students with varying levels of academic preparedness and practice skill experience. Current trends in higher education indicate the possibility of further challenges for academic staff in social work as universities seek to both widen participation from university graduates and, at the same time, prioritise practice and academic excellence among students. Drawing on reflective journal entries by the author, this paper examines the challenges that social work academics might face in teaching social work practice skills effectively to the increasingly diverse student cohorts enrolled across Bachelor and Masters of Social Work (Qualifying) degrees. The reflective process adopted in this study explores the gaps between the author’s intentions and the reality of the classroom experience. Key observations included language barriers impeding engagement with the material and cultural differences in relating to others and conceptualising practice. These problems were apparent in both the process of delivery (pedagogy) and content (curriculum). The reflective process highlighted the need for further research in order to optimally respond to the diversity in social work education.

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