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Back to Basics: A Skill-Based Approach to Assessing Social Work Students within Directly-Observed Practice

Published October 2014

by Mark Irwin
Southern Health & Social Care Trust
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Abstract: This article is based on a piece of research completed with final-year social work students and practice teachers (educators/assessors) within Northern Ireland. The work was concerned with the assessment of students via direct observations of “live” practice, and captured the views, perceptions, and experiences of students and practice teachers.

The findings highlighted the complexity of the direct observation process and the need for effective skills in preparation, assessment, planning, communication, evaluation, and intervention/participation. The outcome challenges current thinking, as there was a high level of support for the use of professional discretion to intervene by practice teachers during an observation.
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