Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Faculty

Faculty of Regional Professional Studies

First Advisor

Dr Vicki Banham

Second Advisor

Dr Julie Goyder

Abstract

There are many different ways of thinking about reflective practice in social work education in Australia. This research utilises a musical metaphor to illustrate this diversity. Written as a piece of music with album notes, the study utilises a reflexive methodology with a qualitative mixed method approach. Three studies were conducted to explore how reflective practice is understood in social work education and practice in Australia. The first study examined my own learning and teaching of reflective practice through an autoethnographic process. The findings indicated a range of models of reflective practice potentially available to the educator. Also explored in this study were the kinds of reflection these models make possible and visible to educators and students. The second study traced the emergence of reflective practice within Australian social work education by conducting a Foucauldian inspired archaeology. This study demonstrated the emergence of specific models in social work education and how their adoption has transformed the language and discourse of problem-solving within the discipline through the use of specific kinds of social theory. In the final study qualitative interviews with social work students, practitioners and educators were undertaken. This study explored the beliefs, attitudes and values held by participants about reflective practice. The final study illustrated the social and oral nature of reflective practice within the discipline. Participant interviews also indicated that reflective practice is a significant means for solving problems and building understanding for learning and practice for social workers. Overall, the study establishes that current models of reflective practice could be enhanced if more attention was paid to instructing students in critical reflection skills such as deconstruction, evaluation, critique, problematisation and interpretation. This would contribute greatly to the ability of social workers to effectively test the limits of their knowledge and practice in the interests of the people they serve.

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