Social Work Students Learn about Social Work Values from Service Users and Carers

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Teaching on social work values is centrally important in social work education as a core aspect of underpinning knowledge in preparing students for practice. This paper describes an innovative project occurring within the first year of the degree in social work, where service users and carers have assisted students with their understanding of social work values. The positive contribution of service users and carers in facilitating students to make links between theory and practice is now well documented. Applying this user perspective to the educational domain of values, however, is relatively uncharted territory given the challenges that have traditionally accompanied the teaching of values. Importantly, this paper describes the ‘value talk’ which occurred when first-year students sought further meaning from service-user and carer groups in their community settings following classroom teaching on values. The paper not only discusses the detailed preparations involved in the project but also the learning which resulted, drawing on the evaluation findings from the students and participating groups. Whilst the findings show that the students' understanding of social work values has been most significantly influenced by the contributions from service users and carers, it is recognized that further research is needed to monitor the longer term impact on social work students' practice after they qualify.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-385
Number of pages18
JournalEthics and Social Welfare
Issue number4
Early online date31 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2012


  • Values; Service User; Carer; User Involvement; Social Work Education


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