Professional education and personal epistemology: a post qualifying social work case study.
This source preferred by Lynne Rutter
Authors: Rutter, L.
The overall aim of this professional doctorate is to inform improved methods of educational practice for preparing and developing learners to deal with the complex and constructed nature of professional learning and knowledge. The primary concern is to understand notions of knowledge and knowing for professional education and the nature of personal epistemology for post qualifying (PQ) social work students. The main purpose is to facilitate these students’ awareness of personal epistemology and enable them to validly articulate their own knowledge in this context.
The thesis adopts an overall pragmatic perspective, undertaking an empirical case study which encompasses a documentary analysis, questionnaires and interviews within a qualitative and interpretive methodology. The findings from the case study provide an understanding of a PQ social work programme’s epistemology and the nature of the students’ experiences, views and assumptions concerning professional knowledge and knowing. Overall, it can be seen that the hegemonic privileging of academic knowledge over practice-based knowledge creates particular epistemological tensions and misalignments in respect of posttechnocratic reflective models. Such privileging impacts negatively on the authority and articulation of PQ students’ professional knowledge, and highlights the necessity to more fully acknowledge a professional perspective within a reflective epistemology.
The findings are used to inform a series of practice development initiatives with PQ social work students. The initiatives help develop epistemological awareness and enable a re-alignment to post-technocratic reflective models with the development of a Practical Reasoning Framework. The Framework acknowledges the types of knowledge and ways of knowing associated with professional reasoning and judgment, and helps establish the validity, justification and authority of a professional perspective within a reflective epistemology.
The recognition of the need to more fully acknowledge a professional perspective within a reflective epistemology, and the development of the Framework to address this need can be identified as the thesis’ contribution to knowledge. With recent national reports emphasising reasoning and judgment as necessary components of professional development, their authentic and legitimate inclusion within an academic context is now more important than ever.