Great Expectations: The Growing Divide between Students and Social Work Educators

Worsley, Aidan Richard clive orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3925-3297, Stanley, Nicky orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7644-1625, O'Hare, Philip, Keeler, Anne, Cooper, Lorraine and Hollowell, Clare (2009) Great Expectations: The Growing Divide between Students and Social Work Educators. Social Work Education, 28 (8). pp. 828-840. ISSN 0261-5479

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This article examines and reflects upon initial findings from a longitudinal study evaluating the experiences and views of students on professional social work programmes across four higher education institutes in the North West of England, on the BA and the MA routes. The paper focuses on one aspect of this study; the students' experience of assessment. In particular it examines how students experienced the process of learning, assessment, support and feedback, which was found to be in part shaped by previous educational experiences. The range of assessment methods previously experienced by students was diverse, some of which were more helpful than others in preparing them for their professional training. Lack of foundation subject knowledge presented a challenge to students on both courses, in particular for MA students who were being assessed at ‘M’ level. Unmet expectations of both the amount and type of support created anxiety, frustration and even anger for some. The ‘search for certainty’ led to anxiety amongst many first year students who believed that academics could facilitate the assessment process by providing ‘the answer’. This exploration of assessment reveals, we believe, a growing divide in the expectations of social work students and their educators.

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