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Using vignettes to evaluate the outcomes of student learning : data from the evaluation of the new social work degree in England

MacIntyre, Gillian and Green Lister, Pam and Orme, Joan and Crisp, Beth and Manthorpe, Jill and Hussain, Shereen and Moriarty, Jo and Stevens, Martin and Sharpe, Endellion (2011) Using vignettes to evaluate the outcomes of student learning : data from the evaluation of the new social work degree in England. Social Work Education, 30 (2). pp. 207-222. ISSN 0261-5479

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Abstract

This paper reports the use of vignettes as a methodology to analyse the extent to which the new social work degree programmes enabled students to develop their analytical and reflective capabilities. Two vignettes, which focused on children and families and adult social care respectively, were developed for the study. Students were asked to respond in writing, from the perspective of a social worker, to a standard set of questions at the beginning (T1) and end of their degree programme (T2). Considering the responses to all questions across the two vignettes, a series of scales was developed to measure the key themes which had been identified by qualitative analysis. These included ‘Attention to process of relationships’ and ‘Social/structural/political awareness’. Responses were also rated as ‘descriptive’, ‘analytic’ or ‘reflective’. Students from six universities in England participated. From an original sample of 222 students, it was possible to match 79 T1 and T2 responses. Analysis of variance demonstrated statistically significant increases in nine of the 11 themes and increases in ratings for analysis and reflection. In conclusion, vignettes can be used to produce both qualitative and quantitative data in respect of changes in students' acquisition of knowledge and skills over time.