Social worker and client

Professional social work practice

The number of disciplinary subjects that include content pertinent to the study of ‘society’ and the ‘social’ is reasonably large. It includes sociology, psychology, social policy, law, philosophy, economics and others. It’s  not surprising then that the subject matter of social work education is quite diverse in nature.

Typically, the content of year one of an undergraduate degree programme will introduce students to ‘society’, the ‘social’ and ‘social issues’ through the lens of the different disciplinary perspectives, using a discipline-centered or problem-based approach. But there will often also be a course, or courses, that introduce students to the nature of social work as a professional practice. Course 77122 Professional Social Work Practice is the course that does exactly this within the Open Polytechnic’s Bachelor of Social Work.

We developed the learning materials and assessment tasks for this 20 credit, level 5 course structuring the content around three modules:

  • MODULE 1: The developing profession
  • MODULE 2: The social work profession: the fundamentals
  • MODULE 3: Relationship-based and reflective practice.[/box]

Module one traces the origins, and the indigenous and bicultural context, of social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. It goes on to explore the nature of the professional project, professional regulation and professional accountability in the context of the ‘risk society’.

Module two takes a closer look at the character of contemporary social work practice exploring its underpinning knowledge, skills and values; and introducing its legal and organisational contexts.

Module three explores the relationship-based perspective on social work developed by Gillian Broad (formerly Ruch) and her colleagues. It goes on to connect this discussion with the role of professional supervision and with reflective practice.

You can view the bibliography used to construct the course at this Zotero group.

Image creditTulane Publications

Neil Ballantyne

Neil is the Director of Learning Designs.