Teaching staff from The University of Queensland have released an innovative learning tool to help students gain a better understanding of the core methods of direct practice in social work and the human services.

Practice Methods in Context for Social Work and the Human Services, a scenario-based learning program, features real students applying the skills that they have been taught in casework, group work and community practice, and later reflecting on their use of these skills on placement in a panel discussion.

The program, which consists of three DVDs with companion workbooks, is a unique initiative that involved current university students rather than experts in the production process.

Being observed and in some cases filmed while learning the core methods of practice can be an anxiety-provoking experience for many students. Seeing other students practise their newly acquired skills can help normalise the experience and enhance student learning outcomes.

Dr Gai Harrison from UQ's School of Social Work and Human Services says the program is a student-friendly teaching tool for educators in social work and human services.

Dr Harrison says that rather than aiming to portray perfect practice, these DVDs demonstrated what was closer to real life practice, where student practitioners did not always get it right and reflected on what they could do differently next time.

Hearing students talk about their experiences of applying these skills in a diverse range of placements will further assist learners to understand the relevance of these skills for practice, Dr Harrison said.

The project team from the UQ School of Social Work and Human Services:

  • Dr Gai Harrison is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Social Work at UQ and teaches in ethics, contemporary social work, and identity and difference in social work practice.
  • Professor Karen Healy is Director of Research in the School of Social Work and Human Services at UQ and coordinates direct practice courses in the social work program.
  • Dr Deborah Walsh coordinates direct practice courses for the Bachelor of Human Services and is a lecturer in the Bachelor of Social Work program at UQ.