SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 1          Otto, H., Polutta, A. & Ziegler, H. (2009). Reflexive professionalism as a second generation of evidence-based practice. Some Considerations on the Special Issue “What Works? Modernizing the Knowledge-Base of Social Work”. Research on Social Work Practice, 19(4), 472-478. 10.1177/1049731509333200
This article refers sympathetically to the thoughtful debates and positions in the Research on Social Work Practice (RSWP; Special Issue, July, 2008 issue) on “What Works? Modernizing the Knowledge-Base of Social Work.” It high- lights the need for empirical efficacy and effectiveness research in social work and appreciates empirical rigor demanded by leading proponents of an evidence-based social work practice. Yet it argues that these high standards of evolution are based on a methodological conceptualization of impact, which might be less than appropriate for social work. We pro- pose a refashioning of efficacy and effectiveness research in social work that focuses on explaining and understanding of causal mechanism. We suggest a second generation of evidence-based practice, which is substantiated in the concept of reflexive professionalism.
Questions to Consider:
  1. Why do these authors state that experimental studies in social work as EBP guides may be limited? Does research with human beings and their related emotional, mental, or cognitive dimensions create ambiguous and less-than scientific research designs?
  2. What role does critical thinking and reflective practice have in research designs and evaluations?
  3. The authors describe a “symbolically mediated interaction” exists between patient/client and social worker that precludes the standardization of practice interventions. Is this an accurate statement based on your professional experiences?
  4. The authors raise the issue of client participation, unique motivations, and goal-driven factors as contributing to successful outcomes. Do most empirical studies consider these mediating variables?
  5. “Scientific knowledge generation and the practical application of social work’s knowledge and capacity” describes “reflexive professionalism” according to the authors. Is this description aligned with core social work values and evaluation standards?
Article 2          Webster-Wright, A. (2009). Reframing professional development through understanding authentic professional learning. Review of Educational Research, 79(2), 702-739. doi: 10.3102/0034654308330970
Continuing to learn is universally accepted and expected by professionals and other stakeholders across all professions. However, despite changes in response to research findings about how professionals learn, many professional development practices still focus on delivering content rather than enhancing learning. In exploring reasons for the continuation of didactic practices in professional development, this article critiques the usual conceptualization of professional development through a review of recent literature across professions. An alternative conceptualization is proposed, based on philosophical assumptions congruent with evidence about professional learning from seminal educational research of the past two decades. An argument is presented for a shift in discourse and focus from delivering and evaluating professional development programs to understanding and supporting authentic professional learning.
Questions to Consider:
  1. Identify three ways that continuing professional learning (CPL) is supported. How does this form of learning shape a professional’s sense of self or even as a practitioner?
  2. Provide an example of a professional development experience you may have had that was transformative for you in practice.
  3. How can different pedagogical styles influence learning in the classroom? Are social work programs effectively preparing students for participatory learning or problem-based learning in the curriculum and in internships? How do these skills transfer to the work world?
  4. What if practitioners are not interested in continuing professional learning? Are there professional standards or accrediting bodies that support this ongoing process?
  5. In “reframing” professional learning, how might a practitioner be supported to engage in complex, diverse learning experiences and how are these experiences measured?