Abstract: Simulation in Social Work Education: A Scoping Review (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

342P Simulation in Social Work Education: A Scoping Review

Friday, January 17, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Ran Hu, MSW, MA, Doctoral Student, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Toula Kourgiantakis, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Karen Sewell, PhD(c), MSW, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Marion Bogo, O.C., LL.D., MSW, RSW, Professor, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Background and Purpose

Field education has had a critical role in preparing social work (SW) students for practice, but in recent years there are numerous challenges due to agencies’ limited resources, increased complex caseloads for supervisors, and little time for student supervision. There has been a call for schools of SW to assume greater responsibility in developing holistic competence in students to prepare them for effective and ethical practice. Simulation-based learning is emerging as a promising innovative method for teaching SW practice in the classroom. This poster will present the results of a scoping review which synthesizes the simulation literature in SW related to teaching, assessment, training, and professional development both in the classroom and field.  Our research questions included: 1) What are the characteristics of studies using simulation in SW education and training? 2) How is simulation used in teaching and assessment? 3) What are the facilitators and barriers to teaching and learning using simulation? 


The PRISMA Extension for Scoping Review (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines were used to develop the protocol and we followedArksey and O’Malley’s (2005) scoping review framework.The search strategy was developed by a research team that included a social sciences librarian and we searched eight databases. We did not have geographical or time restrictions and included studies that (1) focused on SW education in the classroom or training in the field; (2) used simulation-based learning in the study; (3) included SW educators, students, field instructors or supervisors; (4) had simulated clients; and (5) were published in peer-reviewed journals. We also complemented the database search with hand searches of eight key journals that focus on SW education and research.


Fifty studies met inclusion criteria, with 50% published since 2016, and 72% conducted in North America. The methods used were quantitative (34%), qualitative (32%), and mixed methods (34%). The highest group of participants in the studies were MSW students (32%). In 58% of the studies, authors described a theoretical framework or practice model that guided research and/or teaching, and only 32% of the studies addressed culture and diversity. Simulation was used for teaching in 58% of the studies, and 42% used simulation for assessment. More studies focused on specialized (70%) versus generalist competencies (28%), and one study included both. Studies described these primary facilitators to simulation-based learning: (1) ensuring adequate preparation for simulation, (2) providing adequate feedback and debriefing, (3) including a written or oral reflection on practice post-simulation, and (4) using video/audio-recording. The barriers identified were (1) time and cost, (2) administrative and departmental support, (3) actor training and suitability, (4) bridging professional differences in interprofessional simulations, and (5) not having enough simulation learning opportunities to prepare students for practice.

Conclusions and Implications

The scoping review shows that there is increased use of simulation in teaching and assessing generalist and specialized competencies, and it is also used for interprofessional education. The review discusses emerging best practices in using simulation to more adequately prepare students for SW practice and implications for research and education.