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Involving Experts by Experience in Assessing Students' Readiness to Practise: The Value of Experiential Learning in Student Reflection and Preparation for Practice

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This article reviews the development of an experiential learning exercise at Kingston University, designed to involve service users and carers in assessing students' readiness to practise. The new social work degree places increased emphasis on practice learning and equipping social workers with the knowledge, skills and tools for the job. This article draws out some of the strengths and advantages of involving ‘experts by experience’ in helping students to develop awareness of self, their impact on others and effective communication skills, ultimately promoting an understanding of reflective practice early in their training. It also acknowledges some of the problems and dilemmas in providing an equitable experience for all students. The students are provided with this learning/assessment experience as part of a module in the first year of the undergraduate social work degree programme and have to pass this element of the module, in addition to the academic component, in order to progress to level two.

The terms ‘service users’ and ‘carers’ and ‘experts by experience’ are used interchangeably in this article. The Steering Group at Kingston University, involved in the development of the exercise discussed, are aware of the power and impact of language and have expressed preference to being referred to as ‘experts by experience’.
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Keywords: Assessment; Evaluation; Fitness to Practise; Reflection; Students; User Perspectives

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2011

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