Relational aspects of becoming a social care worker

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Despite being the site for practice learning, placement-based learning commanded limited research attention within social care. Attending to the pedagogical gap arising from this situation, the purpose of the doctoral research was to foreground the socio-cultural significant of placement-based learning in the education of social care workers. The study had three research objectives
1. Identify the placement-based symbolic growth experiences participants associated with their sense of becoming a social care worker.
2. Ascertain social infrastructures and pedagogically rich activities which ‘hooked’ or ‘rebuffed’ participants’ sense of becoming a social care worker.
3. Infer socio-cultural narratives held within individual experiences of ontological change.
Data was collected during the academic years 2014-16. This period is a critical juncture in social care professional development project as it just precedes the publication of the SCW Education and Training Criteria and the Standards of Proficiency in 2017. The study is semi-longitudinal, as retained 13 social care students, registered in 4 colleges, for the duration of the study. Taking an inter-subjective position, socio-linguistic interviews were completed after participants’ second- and third-year placements. As comment in narrative enquiry, a bespoke analytical framework was developed. Data was subject to four analytical process – social cultural analysis, ‘like event’ classification, typology development, and thematic analysis.
The study Identified four narratives of placement-based learning - enculturation, disentanglement, co-participation, and inhibited participation. Thematic analysis of these narratives highlights the significance of relationship (with practice educators, and placement colleagues) for placement-based learning. Students who had stronger relationships with their practice educators and placement colleagues experienced a greater sense of psycho-social positioning in the placement service and within the profession. Strong relationships give learners the psych-social space for them to become more involved in practice which ultimately moves them toward acting like a member of the profession.
• Implications:
Being a socio-cultural temporal stamp of placement-based learning, the study provides insight into the importance of relationship-based learning for social care student. This insight has significance for academic who organise social care work education, for practice educators, and for students, both of whom need to be proactive and mutually agentic in creating and maintaining learning-relationships for the duration of placement. With the CORU approval of social care work programmes drawing to a close, the role of practice educator is changing. They are now have a role in teaching and assessing the practice learning a student attains on placement. While social care work education providers offer, supervision, and assessment training, this presentation offer a more nuanced consideration of the relationship-based to practice education. As such, it has the potential to be the impetus of a research project. Primary research ethics from the study was granted by ATU – Sligo and ethical review was carried out by the four partner education providers from where participants were drawn.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023
EventAnnual Social Care Ireland Conference. : Social Care Practice and Relationships- Critical Reflections on Relationship-based Practice - Tullow, Carlow, Ireland
Duration: 29 Mar 202330 Mar 2023


ConferenceAnnual Social Care Ireland Conference.


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