Abstract: Applied Practice Research (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Applied Practice Research

Friday, January 22, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Uzo Anucha, PhD, Associate Professor, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
Background and Purpose: To facilitate the integration of research and practice in field education, student and postdoctoral fellows will be trained and mentored in Research As Daily Practice, an approach to research in which practitioners are recognized and valued as researchers because they use inquiry processes to make quality decisions in their daily practice (e.g., gathering data, organizing data to better explain phenomena, constructing and implementing a plan of action, observing the effects, and gathering more data) (Fook et al., 2011; Austin, Dal Santo, & Lee, 2012).

Methods: The TFEL partnership has utilized multiple methods for integrating research into practice and field education, including Research As Daily Practice. This approach allows practitioners to collectively examine problems, dilemmas, and questions that they are facing in their work with clients in systematic ways. They first identify questions of interest and then evaluate the best methods to address those questions. They select and utilize research methodologies that most closely align with their contextual ways of operating as an agency. For example, they may tailor a discourse analysis process or use a narrative inquiry, grounded theory, or critical ethnography because that methodology aligns with the question of inquiry and the way they practice normally. Workshops were delivered by co-investigators in the partnership. Secondly, field learning agreement contracts were reviewed to better identify how research can be better integrated into the learning agreement. Evaluation in field education is an important component on integrating research into practice. A template for research-based practicum is currently in development. Finally, a training module is being developed for field instructors and students.

Results: The TFEL partnerships aims to identify new approaches for integrating research into practice and field education. The role of evaluation in field education and research is a key component to be considered. New resources are being created for students, field instructors, and faculty liaisons.

Conclusions and Implications: Research As Daily Practice is an approach that contributes to the integration of research in practice and in field education to improve social work practice. There is a need for field education programs to adopt field research and evaluation in student placements. There is a need to integrate research into field education in order to contribute to micro, mezzo and macro system improvements in social services for all.