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Critical thinking in social care and social work: searching student assignments for the evidence

Heron, G. (2006) Critical thinking in social care and social work: searching student assignments for the evidence. Social Work Education, 25 (3). pp. 209-224. ISSN 0261-5479

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Abstract

The ability to think critically would appear to be a defining feature of competent social work practice. Yet the way practitioners develop critical thinking and how it is taught and assessed within educational establishments is unclear. This paper explores one key aspect of the learning process; the way critical thinking might be evidenced in the transition from Further Education to Higher Education. The assignments produced by students undertaking the HNC in Social Care and year one students at the initial stage of the BA Social Work programme in Scotland were examined. The findings suggest that students working in social care environments and year one students on the BA Social Work course were able to evidence some critical thinking; however, it was generally quite minimal and limited to certain categories. Whilst there are likely to be diverse opinions within Scotland as to how the new four‐year honours degree in social work is implemented in terms of teaching, assessment and learning, a valuable opportunity may be missed if critical thinking is not a core feature and meaningfully aligned to students' experiences at Further Education and Higher Education.