Preparing for Practice: An Evaluation of an Undergraduate Social Work ‘Preparation for Practice’ Module

Louise O'Connor, Bob Cecil, Markella Boudioni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The requirement for social work students to undergo assessed preparation prior to undertaking their first practice placement raises key questions about the type of knowledge and experience that is needed for those at the start of their training. This paper shows the need for social work educators to become re-engaged in debates about the practice–theory relationship and to explore what is meant by an incremental approach to learning. A Preparation for Practice Learning module which was delivered to a cohort of Level 1 undergraduate social work students at a London university is described and evaluated. The paper highlights the key themes which emerged from the evaluation; these include the importance of work shadowing, observational learning and the centrality of critical reflection in aiding students’ personal and professional learning. A discussion of its effectiveness in preparing students for their first practice learning experience follows. It concludes by recommending how students’ learning in relation to the nature of social work and the skills required to undertake the role effectively might be addressed within the curriculum. Finally, a Preparation for Practice Learning model based on these findings is proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)436-454
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2009

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