Arts-based pedagogies in social work education: Does it measure up?

Trish Hafford Letchfield , Katherine Leonard, Wendy Couchman

Research output: Contribution to non-peer-reviewed publicationInternet publication


Social work education is confronting unprecedented socio-economic and political challenges resulting from globalisation, demographic and cultural transformation combined with technological advances. How it prepares students by keeping to the true spirit of an empowering and emancipatory yet a robust and fit-for-purpose approach to education, demands a creative approach. Our own endeavours as educators from the UK in searching for novel approaches, has led us to experiment with the arts as a means of enriching social work pedagogy (Hafford-Letchfield et al, 2012). Social work epistemology has traditionally been founded on social science theoretical frameworks so borrowing methods from the arts seems to naturally build on this interdisciplinary approach. However the need for accountability led us to conduct a wider exploration of what is involved in arts-based learning and to look for potential new methods for research and evaluation which bring us closer to understanding why arts-based approaches might be effective in learning and teaching? In this short article we share selected findings from a systematic review of the available evidence (Leonard et al, 2017). We highlight key messages and principles for educators interested in designing an evaluation of arts-based pedagogies and what we have learned about doing this to best effect.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
VolumeIssue 19
Specialist publicationSocial Dialogue Free magazine of the International Association of Schools of Social Work
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

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