Knowing that and knowing how: Building student confidence through skills assessment

Document Type

Journal Article


Australian Association for Social Work and Welfare Education


Faculty of Regional and Professional Studies


School of Social Work (RPS) / ECU South West Research Centre




Watts, L. J., & Hodgson, D. R. (2013). Knowing that and knowing how: Building student confidence through skills assessment. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 14(1), 75-88. Availablehere


Social Work education in Australia occurs in a tertiary education setting with field placement offering the key opportunity for students to demonstrate and integrate skills and theory outside of specific instances of classroom clinical practice or the use of role plays in classroom settings. There is broad agreement that social work practice includes a complex mix of values, knowledge and skills (Hudson 1997; Australian Association of Social Workers 2003; Trevithick 2008). Teaching across this complex mix can require different instructional approaches for successful acquisition or learning by students (Knight 2001). This paper discusses a recent innovation within a Social Work program at an Australian university where the demonstration of skills formed the basis for a teaching and learning process which addressed all three elements and provided students with opportunities to build their confidence as they move into their field placement. The paper begins with a discussion of the literature on skills within social work. We provide a description of the skills demonstration assessment and report on evaluation data of the assessment. We conclude that the use of a skills demonstration assessment contributes to building student confidence at applying appropriate knowledge, values and skills in advance of undertaking field education.