A signature pedagogy for the emerging human service and community work profession

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Australian Journal of Community Work




School of Arts and Humanities




Banham, V. (2020). A Signature Pedagogy for the Emerging Human Service and Community Work Profession. Australian Journal of Community Work, 1, 1 - 9. https://www.acwa.org.au/ajcw/previous-issues/


Different disciplines have been preparing their students for professional practice for centuries but examining in detail how this is actually undertaken is relatively new. In human services and community work, this has been a particular challenge for human services/community work as an academic profession is still emerging. As a result, there has been a dearth of literature on appropriate discipline pedagogies (Pavelová 2014) for this profession. Signature pedagogies are considered important in the scholarship of teaching and learning as according to Shulman (2005) they implicitly define what counts as knowledge in the field and how things become known This paper presents for debate the importance of creating a signature pedagogy for the profession. It calls upon Shulman’s work in signature pedagogies, examining how his three dimensions: surface structure (operational strategies for teaching and learning); deep structure (the assumptions underlying how knowledge should be taught); and implicit structure (the focus on the professional valuesand attitudes) could be applied to create a signature pedagogy for the profession. It also acknowledges the work of Gurung, Chick, and Haynie (2009) who noted the need for an emerging academic discipline, like human services/community work, to create a pedagogy to enable its students to understand and practice disciplinary ways of thinking or habits of mind, in ethical, moral, and/or professionally prescribed ways. In attempting to answer how the human services/community work profession can apply Shulman’swork to create a distinctive signature pedagogy for the profession, the paper presents two frameworks for further research and debate.

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