Using ePortfolios to Evidence Practice Learning for Social Work Students

Using ePortfolios to Evidence Practice Learning for Social Work Students

Samantha Osborne (University of Kent, UK), Ruben Martin (University of Kent, UK) and Louise Frith (University of Kent, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-884-0.ch021
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The University of Kent is piloting the use of ePortfolios in a number of departments; the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research took the opportunity to pilot ePortfolios to investigate whether ePortfolios could improve communication and collaboration between student, placement supervisor and academic tutors whilst Social Work students are out on work-based placement. Social Work students are required to complete two reflective practice documents during each of their two placements during Years 2 and 3 of their degree to assess their competence against a set of National Standards. The chapter will discuss the adoption of a Personalised Learning Environment for recording assessed practice and how the tools provided can enhance the different categories of users’ experiences both in terms of reflective practice and personal development. The chapter gives a background to the pilot and describes the different profiles of each user group which are students, academic staff, practitioners, and other stakeholders. It will also examine to what extent the pilot is in line with government initiatives such as the Leitch Review and Burgess Report and research into the use of ePortfolios for reflection; the issues surrounding the introduction of new technology to non-traditional students and outside organizations; how technology has changed student and practitioner’s perceptions and expectations in the production of a collaborative body of evidence; and the future pedagogical implications of using technology with Social Work students and practitioners.
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The National Student Survey in 2005 showed that the student experience of Personal Development Planning (PDP) at the University of Kent was not equitable across different departments. As a result, the University undertook a campus-wide review of PDP practice in 2006. The review exposed a considerable lack of awareness of PDP amongst students. However, it also confirmed that Kent’s approach to PDP being discipline-based was deemed, pedagogically, to be a strength but laid the University open to accusations of inequality. Lecturers commented that PDP should be a largely student-owned process supported by academic staff. Consequently, curriculum developers embarked on finding a way of strengthening PDP, making it student–owned and more visible to students yet retaining a variety of discipline-based approaches.

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