This symposium features the use of live simulations- applied to practice, policy, and research classes-to prepare social work students across degree programs for equity and social justice work. Through the creation of spontaneous experiences that model real-life situations that students may encounter when they interface with clients, policy-makers, or research contacts, simulations place students in the moment without risks of real-life situations, allowing for reflections, discussions, and learning. The papers presented in this forum describe how we developed and implemented case scenarios and highlight findings from our evaluation research on the impact of a holistic approach to live simulations that spans degree programs (BSW, MSW, PhD).
The first paper features the ways simulations foster students' cognition, experiential learning of skills, and preparedness for working with diverse clients in our MSW practice and research program. Based on CSWE's Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, the paper discusses themes drawn from 36 MSW students over five focus group discussions.
The second paper addresses the use of simulations in instructing students on SMART goal formulation in clinical and policy simulations. It draws from the same five focus groups as the first paper as well as the open-ended evaluation responses from approximately 60 practice and policy students who participated in the simulations.
The third paper examines simulations within the context of school social work practice classes. Drawing on focus group interviews, it describes how 12 masters-level schools practice students benefited from simulations through three pathways: holistic competence, experiential learning, and curriculum as engagement.
The fourth paper evaluates how simulations prepare PhD students to become teachers of undergraduate and graduate social work programs. We document the experience of six doctoral students (through one focus group discussion) on their in-depth exposure to BSW and MSW simulations through joint-case development with instructors, implementation, acting, and leading discussions and focus groups.
The symposium features doctoral students, the doctoral teaching seminar instructor, and MSW and PhD program directors. Underscoring the benefits of a holistic approach to simulations that spans degree problems, the discussants synthesize main findings, discuss their experience with live simulations, challenges, learning outcomes, student and teacher growth and integration, and future plans. We describe our overall experience with simulations as a transformational strategy for teaching core values of equity and social justice. We further discuss doctoral students' perceptions of how simulations support their own career development and their future teaching approaches.