‘It's About People and Their Environment’: Student Social Workers' Definitions of Social Work Research
Gibbs, Anita; Stirling, Blair
This article considers constructions of social work research from the perspectives of student social workers in New Zealand. There have been many academic discussions of the unique epistemology that can be called social work research but little is known of students and/or practitioner views. Are they interested in social work research? Do they even care about debates on epistemology? Forty-three student social workers considered two questions while attending a social work research methods course: ‘What is social work research?’ and ‘What kind of social work researcher might I be?’. A subset of 18 distance students explored a third question: ‘Should social work research be part of everyday practice or not?’. To answer these questions students provided comments in a short survey, material from their written student assignments and comments from online discussion board activities. The results suggest that student social workers have a preference for social work research that is compatible with their clearly articulated social work value base, and that social work research primarily should benefit the client group with which a social worker is closely linked. Student social workers also recognise the importance of research for their everyday practice, yet at the same time feel there are organisational constraints to this happening.
Rights Statement: © 2013 Taylor & Francis
Keywords: social work research; students; social workers; New Zealand; values
Research Type: Journal Article
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