Reflecting upon past experience is a vital capability for all social work professionals to develop improved communication skills, commend ourselves for what went well, enhance future performance, and continuing professional development.
Example of Critical Reflective Log (log 1): Reflection on learning
There are several reflective models such as Rolfe et al. reflective model, Gibbs reflective cycle and Kolb reflective model. For this example, I will use Gibbs reflective piece to unpick the learning gained.
Taking into account my learning at the onset of my social work placement, this reflective piece is to show how I have progressed and developed as a professional. Consideration will also be given to areas for development.
I will focus on the social work PCF domain of ‘KNOWLEDGE’.
Here’s Why the PCF Domains in Social Work are Important.
A few days into my placement, I was tasked to complete some mandatory in-house online course and to attend a team meeting.
Regarding the online training, I already had a fair knowledge of various policies and key legislation that supported my practice, which I learned via my Ethics and Law module, however, I was looking forward to enhancing my knowledge on legislation around adult social work.
I know that as a student social worker it is my professional obligation to gain knowledge at all times to inform my practice.
As part of the social work role, I am aware the authority and responsibility the role of a social worker comes with is authorised by law, especially when carrying out duties in circumstances where the risk involved will be of significant harm to the individual or others.
Hence, to contend with this complex nature of cases and to remain accountable, there is the need to navigate through law.
The Care Act 2014, Mental Capacity Act 2005, Data Protection Act 1998, Mental Health Act 1983 and Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 all play a major part in adult social work.
The application of knowledge from these areas of law informs our practice when working with adults within the community.
Knowledge of the use of theories and methods of social work practice helps us gain a better understanding of our service users (BASW, 2016).
In the course of the online training, I was mindful that the knowledge I would gain should be invaluable in my current placement role and responsibilities.
Upon reflection, learning gained from this training will be useful when I qualify as a social worker.
After the online training, I was confident that I had gained a lot of knowledge on the various pieces of legislation applicable to adult social services.
Through this training imbalance of power between service users, the law and local authorities.
The tendency to discriminate or prejudice cannot be eliminated, but with the law such as the Equality Act 2010 in place, it brings this imbalance to an equilibrium encouraging proportionality in practice.
Theories and Methods
The Oxford Dictionary defines knowledge as ‘facts, information, and skills gained through experience or education; the theoretical and practical understanding of a subject’ (Harris & White, 2013).
Every social worker is required to take responsibility for their own practice and continuing professional development, and in doing this, social workers are expected to develop and maintain the knowledge, understanding and skills to provide quality services and accountability in practice.
They also need to keep up to date with relevant research, learning from other professionals and service users. BASW expects employers to ensure social workers’ learning and development needs are met and seek adequate resources to do so.
To facilitate the process of knowledge acquisition, I believe that a social worker must know their own learning styles and what works for them best. Witkin & Goodenough (1981) described their two learning styles as ‘Field independent’ and ‘Field dependent’ learning styles.
According to them, field independent learners prefer to learn in isolation, as compared to field dependent learners who learn in integration and work well in teams.
Field independent learners are self-motivated, self-directed, approach tasks without consulting others and structure their own learning, whereas field dependent learners prefer an external frame of reference, prefer to work with others to achieve a common goal and like to learn and practice by experimentation before starting the task.
Witkin and Goodenough recognise, however, that the preferred learning style may not apply in all instances, as people may adapt to a unique learning style depending on the environment, their interest and the demands made on them (Witkin & Goodenough, 1981).
I reckon that in the course of my social work training so far; I have adopted more of the field dependent style of learning, relying on my Practice Educator (P.E.) and lecturers as my point of reference before starting a task.
Once I am pointed towards the right direction, I can organise myself to get it done. I feel this field dependent cognitive style of learning best describes me best because I may have some theoretical knowledge, however applying it to practice can be daunting.
However, with the knowledge that I have gained so far regarding the law applicable to adult learning disabilities, I am positive that with some level of support, I should be able to link theory to practice once I am allocated cases.
I also expect that once I qualify as a social worker, some level of support will be required during the first few years in practice until I become more self-confident and gear towards some values of a field independent learner.
PCF Domains in Social Work Important?
Gray, M., & Webb, S. (2012). Social Work Theories and Methods: London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Harris, J., & White, V. (2013). Oxford Dictionary of Social Work & Social Care. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Maclean, S. & Harrison, R. (2015). Theory and Practice. A Straightforward Guide for Social Work.
(3rd ed.). Lichfield: Kirwin Maclean Associates.
Taylor, C. And White, S. (2006) ‘Knowledge and reasoning in social work, education for humane judgement’, British Journal of Social Work, 36, pp. 937–54.
Thompson, N. (2006). Anti-Discriminatory Practice. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Witkin, T & Goodenough, D R (1981) ‘Cognitive Style: Essence and Origin’ New York, International University Press pp: 1-26