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Exploring the Learning Experiences of Students Involved in Community Profiling Projects

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Practice learning in the UK is a vital part of social work education where students are given the opportunity to implement theoretical knowledge, skills and values into practice. At the University of Bath we organise community profiling projects as students' first practice learning experience where students work in small groups/teams to conduct a participative piece of research alongside a community agency and service users. In an effort to evaluate the quality and usefulness of community profiling projects, this study employed qualitative data collection methods to gather the experiences and perspectives of University of Bath social work students during their course of conducting a community profiling project. Two research questions guided this study: 'What are the learning experiences of students involved in community profiling projects?' and 'What do students perceive as the relevance of a community profiling project on their practice learning?'. The data analysis revealed five emerging themes (importance of service user involvement in defining 'needs'; ability to challenge one's assumptions; enhancement of research skills; ability to enhance groupwork/teamwork skills; and ability to apply lecture material to the 'real' world), which together depict the learning experiences of students. The importance and implications of community profiling on practice learning are discussed.
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Keywords: Community Profiling; Participative Practice; Practice Learning; Qualitative Research; Student Perspectives

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Bath, UK

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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