The Society for Social Work and Research

2013 Annual Conference

January 16-20, 2013 I Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina I San Diego, CA

Evaluating the Outcomes of Social Work Education: A Pragmatic Approach

Sunday, January 20, 2013: 10:45 AM-12:15 PM
Nautilus 3 (Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina)
Cluster: Research on Social Work Education
John Carpenter, PhD, University of Bristol and Hilary Burgess, MSc, University of Southampton
This workshop is designed for participants who wish to evaluate the outcomes of programs of social work education.   The concern here will be with measureable outcomes and robust research designs, but the emphasis will be on the pragmatics of evaluation.  It will draw on a three year project (the OSWE project, 2007-10) funded by the Social Work Institute of Excellence.  It was designed to develop approaches to the evaluation of social work education and build capacity for evaluation amoung social work educators. It involved six universities in England and three in Scotland, using action learning sets. 

Findings from the OSWE project had been presented in a monograph, The Outcomes of Social Work Education: developing evaluation methods. Southampton: Higher Education Academy Subject Centre for Social Policy and Social Work and a special issue of the journal Social Work Education 2011, vol. 30 (2).

Learning objectives

At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to:

  1. Identify levels of learning outcome using the Kirkpatrick framework as elaborated by Barr and colleagues.
  2. Select from a range of potential outcomes measures the most appropriate ones for their  evaluation. 
  3. Consider the potential of various research designs for the evaluation of both short courses and extended programs of social work education.

Teaching and learning methods

Participants are encouraged to attend the workshop with a particular program of social work education in mind.  This could be a program which they would like to evaluate or one which they have already attempted to evaluate and would like to review.  The workshop will include brief presentations of frameworks, measures and designs.   Participants will be given handouts and worksheets.  They will be invited to work in pairs and small groups to identify learning outcomes for their programs and to select measures and choose between possible research designs.  The facilitator(s) will provide consultation to the discussions.  Participants will then be invited to share the results of their deliberations with the group.  More experienced participants will be encouraged to share their experiences of evaluating social work education.

The facilitators will draw on over 20 years’ experience and their own published research to illustrate possible approaches and methods for robust evaluations.

Outcomes for workshop participants

Participants will come away with an evaluation plan for their program or ideas for improving the rigour of existing evaluations.

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