Social work students' perception of connecting theory and practice
Michlin, Parivash Minou
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This qualitative study developed a model of the process by which Master of Social Work students experience the connection of theoretical learning and self-awareness with practice. The conceptual foundation is provided by theories in adult learning, cognitive and ego psychology, and literature related to teaching and learning in social work. The methodology incorporates the use of grounded theory, the techniques of constant comparison analysis of students' logs, the researcher's field notes, and transcripts of indepth interviews with MSW students, their field instructors and recent graduates of a public university.;The analysis of data indicated that students were able to identify incidents which led to significant learning. A model of learning was developed. Beginning with an internal or external trigger from a practice situation, discomfort was caused and was then followed by a search for management. This led to an awareness of the connection of theory and/or self-understanding with practice. Distinct types of connection processes emerged. These included the following: theoretical connection, introspective connection and complex connection (both theoretical and introspective). Some students experienced single connection in the practice situation, while for others, the connection led to a new cycle of discomfort, search and connection. Not only did this study confirm that student social workers are capable of reporting the connection of theory and self-awareness with their practice, but also that phases and types of that process can be identified.