Is there a suit missing in the social worker's wardrobe? A study of the nature and extent of an educator role in everyday social work practice in Aotearoa New Zealand
Reflection on the roles and tasks of social workers is undertaken continually to define and redefine the profession’s mission and purpose as it endeavours to respond to the challenges of the 21st century. As part of this ongoing process, a number of internationally significant reports examining the future shape and direction of social work have been released in recent years. None of the reports includes a specific role for social workers as educators in the context of their everyday practice. This thesis uses a reflective practice framework to explore the nature and extent of social workers’ perceptions of this aspect of their practice with service users in Aotearoa New Zealand. A mixed methodology approach was used. The main emphasis was on a large-scale survey which gave participants an opportunity to reflect on both the significance of the role in their everyday work and the relative importance of its component tasks for achieving successful outcomes. This was followed by a series of interviews with social workers from a variety of fields of practice. The short narratives gave richness and depth to the quantitative data collected through the survey. A content analysis of a range of position descriptions was then undertaken to explore the level of recognition accorded to an educator role by employing bodies, and the Social Workers Registration Board curriculum requirements for professional social work degree programmes were explored for any reference to education theory and practice. While the research clearly indicates that social workers in all areas perceive they have a significant role as educator in their everyday practice, it also indicates that neither employing agencies nor the profession’s regulatory body recognises this role and its associated tasks, or the place of education theory in social work. It is argued here that recognition and development of this aspect of practice would be a positive step in achieving local and international social work goals. Until accorded the recognition they deserve, however, the theory, practice knowledge and skills required to fulfil it successfully will not be given the weight they deserve in social work in Aotearoa New Zealand. In future decades it is hoped that the suit of educator will proudly hang in the social work wardrobe alongside those that are already well-established and widely acknowledged.
Advisor: Briggs, Lynne; Walker, Peter
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Sociology, Gender and Social Work
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: social work; New Zealand; roles; tasks; practice; educator; direct practice; curriculum; education theory; theory; knowledge; skills; history; social pedagogy; development; definition; indirect practice; reflective practice; reflection; practice research; research; Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Work; bi-cultural; Aotearoa
Research Type: Thesis