Failure to fail? Practice educators' emotional experiences of assessing failing social work students

Taylor, Imogen and Finch, Johanna (2012) Failure to fail? Practice educators' emotional experiences of assessing failing social work students. Social Work Education, 32 (2). pp. 244-258. ISSN 0261-5479

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The paper explores issues that arise in the assessment of failing social work students in practice learning settings in England. It draws on existing literature on the topic, as well as on a small empirical study. The qualitative methodology is influenced by practitioner-research paradigms. Based on 20 in-depth interviews with practice educators, the research utilised the voice-centred relational method of data analysis which revealed five distinct ‘emotional stories’, explaining why practice assessors found the process of working with a failing student challenging and difficult. These stories include the ‘guilty story’, ‘angry story’, the ‘what is my role story’, the ‘idealised learner story’ and the ‘internalisation of failure so I couldn't always fail them story’. The paper considers the possible adverse impact on the assessment process of these often unacknowledged emotional responses experienced by practice educators, namely, that there is a very real possibility that students are being passed as competent when the evidence may strongly suggest otherwise. The paper offers some ways forward in light of the findings, linking these to the change process underway in social work education in England but suggesting that these have wider relevance to practice assessment in other contexts

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Published online
Keywords: failing students, practice education, practice assessing, practice learning, placements, assessment of practice
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology > HV0040 Social service. Social work. Charity organization and practice Including social case work, private and public relief, institutional care, rural social work, work relief
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
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Depositing User: Pascale Fanning-Tichborne
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2012 07:44
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2013 12:08
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