Social Work Students’ Use of Knowledge in Direct Practice – Reasons, Strategies and Effects

Björn Blom, Lennart Nygren, Cia Nyman, Carina Scheid

Abstract

This article describes a study of Swedish social work students’ use of knowledge during their field practice. Data was collected by using short written narratives, where the students reflect on situations from practice, situations they experienced as critical or problematic. The narratives were analysed with a method inspired by the interpretation theory of Paul Ricoeur.

The article starts with a discussion adhering to the present trend of evidence-based social work practice. This is followed by a study of 144 narratives from social work students containing critical or problematic events. A quantitative description of the material as well as qualitative model of two type-strategies, that social work students use, is presented.

The results show, among other things, that students use several forms of knowledge, where facts/evidence is one of several. The study also shows that there is a strong adaptation to varying critical situations. A conclusion is that it is difficult to a priori define the types and proportions of knowledge to use in social work practice.


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