Service user involvement, pedagogy and frameworks for professional education: an exploration of the impact of service user stories in pre-registration social work education


When did you first introduce the innovation?

More than 24 months ago

Please describe the innovation you have developed

Service user involvement within professional education is a relatively recent development and although receiving increasing attention remains, its actual impact remains little researched. I have therefore explored the notion of impact in relation to service user narratives as part of my Education Doctorate. This has involved the collation and analysis of a wide range of data including depth interviews with service users, students and social work academics, focus groups, participant -as -observer methods and documentary analysis. This has illuminated key aspects of the teaching and learning process from which specific models of teaching have and continue to be developed.

What prompted you to develop this innovation?

Having been involved in social work education for 20 years and with a keen interest in service user involvement, I wanted to combine these interests and develop the knowledge base at Doctoral level. I am particularly interested in the the turn to a more critical pedagogy within the learning environment and wanted to explore this in the form of a case study from emancipatory and social constructionist perspectives with a view to advancing teaching practice(s).

In your view, what is it about this innovation that makes it different/important?

It promotes service users as co-educators and places the importance of the narrative at the heart of social work practice and education. Further, as research informed teaching it strengthens both the growing knowledge base and contributes to current discourses in relation to service user involvement.

To what extent does your innovation make use of existing approaches, resources or technologies?

This innovation shows the value of a service user led approach to professional education highlighting the value experiential learning and importance of non-tokenistic approach within the field. It highlights the potential and benefits of teaching through narrative as part of professional preparation.

To what degree has this innovation led to changes in education or clinical practice?

The research has illuminated the nature of social work theory and teaching of the same. Emotional dimensions of learning have been highlighted with some key messages for management of the same. Findings also shaped/reconfigured understanding of ‘academic’ and ‘service user’ identities within education. This has led to development of new models of teaching , preparation of service users, students and lecturers and a cross fertilization to inform the teaching of other modules across undergraduate and postgraduate pre-registraion social work education.

What evidence do you have of the impact of the innovation?

As above, this has been the subject of Ed D research which took the form of an instrumental qualitative case study exploring the impact of service user stories/story telling.

The innovation and associated activity was also commended by professional regulatory bodies and continues to receive very positive student evaluation.

To what degree has the innovation been disseminated in your organisation or elsewhere?

Initial findings disseminated at international conference ( European Association of Schools of Social Work , Milan 2015)

CCCU Faculty Staff Development Conference 2014

Faculty Committee level ( Teaching, Learning & Assessment Committee and Service user & Carer Committee

Journal : Social Work Education initial findings informing Ed D published (co author ) Skoura-Kirk, E., Backhouse, B., Bennison, G., Cecil,B., Keeler, J., Talbot, D., & Watch, L. (2012)

‘Mark my words! Service user & carer involvement in social work academic assessment’ Social Work Education:The International Journal, May 2012 , 1-16

Please provide details of any plans you have to disseminate the innovation in the future.

Following Ed D submission (December 2015), findings will be submitted for publication in relevant journals/conferences.