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The practice placement is a central component of social care education, being seen as where students develop their practice skills, self-awareness and apply theoretical knowledge. This research reports on social care students’ experiences of their practice placements, in particular how learning was achieved and what helped learning. An interpretivist approach was used in line with the acceptance of the individuality of students’ experiences. A volunteer sample of seventeen students were interviewed individually at the end of their final year in college. The interview transcripts were thematically analysed. Four themes were identified: the need for a balance between autonomy and doing with supervision and observing; the role of all agency staff; the realities of practice and there is always learning. The findings suggest that learning about practice and self occurs in many ways in placement. While supervisors and other staff play a role in assisting student learning by various means participants saw themselves as primarily responsible for their own learning. A key message from this research is that educators cannot regulate everything that happens on placement so students need to be prepared and encouraged to exploit and recognise learning opportunities.
Fiona McSweeney & Dave Williams (2018) Social care students’ learning in the practice placement in Ireland, Social Work Education, 37:5, 581-596, DOI: 10.1080/02615479.2018.1450374