Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 22nd Jan 2022, 01:38:09pm EET

Session Overview
Paper Presentation Session 15: With and for Services Users
Thursday, 17/June/2021:
12:30pm - 2:00pm

Session Chair: Anna Broka
Location: Parallel Session 5

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“This really forced me to think!” Knowledge Construction and Utilization in Social Work Education in Simulation-Based Learning Environments with Standardized Clients

Carolin Auner1, Sabine Pankofer2, Birgit Dorner2

1International Doctoral School REASON - Ludwigs-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany (Elite Network of Bavaria); 2Katholische Stiftungshochschule München, Germany / University of Applied Sciences (KSH) Munich


Social work is characterized by highly dynamic and complex situations which is often overwhelming also for professionals but is especially demanding for social work students. Universities have adapted different methods in their curricula to equip students with skills relevant for professional practice with service users. Connecting the knowledge gained in theory to the social work´s diverse practice scenarios remains a challenge for many social work students nonetheless. Knowledge application in realistic scenarios is important for the develop-ment of complex skills and simulation based learning has been found to be effective in bridging this theory-practice gap. In simulation based learning an opportunity for meaningful application of knowledge to professional problems is ensured. There is however paucity of research on how social work students construct and use scientific knowledge during practice.

We raise the following research questions in our study:

1. What problem-solving strategy do social work students pursue with Standardized Clients in Simulation-Based Learning Environment?

2. Which types and which quality of knowledge do they apply?

3. What other factors influence the process of problem solving?


Sample: n=24 Social-Work-Students (B.A.) / 4th to 7th semester, Age: 18-40 years,

Learning Environment: Live- and Video-Simulation, Case Vignette: District Social Work, Initial Consultation of the Client with the Social Worker, follow-up meeting with individual feedback.

Research-Design: Questionnaire on prior experiences, recorded Live- or Video-Simulation with a trained actress, focused interviews, think-aloud-memos and recorded additional interviews.

The whole research follows the Grounded-Theory-Methodology


Based on our preliminary findings and on research, we observe that students largely have difficulties in dealing with clients´ emotions during the counselling sessions. Problem solving strategies, knowledge construction and use as well as professional attitudes differ amongst participants: objec-tives, strategies, processes and the contextualization of clients problem situation during the assess-ment are quite diverse. It appears that the constant balancing between the emotional level, the search for support offers and individual insecurity are closely related to the development of conversation skills.

"Growing Pains": Predicting the Adjustment of Youth Volunteers by Their Personal, Environmental and Organizational Resources

Amit Zriker

Bar-Ilan University, Israel

Objectives: The phenomenon of volunteering among adolescents is drawing a great deal of attention from scholars and practitioners. Among adolescents in particular, the volunteering casts an additional purpose, which lays in its contribution to their personal and social development in a critical life-stage. In this study, we aspired to expand the current knowledge of the contribution of personal, environmental and organizational resources to the adjustment of youth volunteers. Furthermore, we ought to investigate the changes in these variables on the course of time, through comparing their levels among the adolescents at the start of their volunteering, and several months after that. During that time, these adolescents are experiencing, perhaps for the first time in their lives, a prolonged period of volunteering for the sake of others.

Method: The study was a quantitative one, and was based on questionnaires distributed to 112 adolescents who volunteered in a center of therapeutic riding in Israel. This center offers a unique interaction between social workers, instrucors, volunteers and clients. Therefore, it may symbolize an innovative role of social workers in a NGO. Data was collected in two time-periods. Data in T1 was collected a month after the volunteers first started their volunteer action. Data in T2 was collected after roughly 7-8 months.

Results: We found significant improvements in the levels of all adjustment variables (Subjective Well-Being, Future Orientation, Leadership Ability). We also found positive correlations between these three variables and self-evaluation, sense of mastery, growth, social support, and organizational factors. Attitude of instructors was found correlated only to subjective well-being and future orientation, but not to leadership ability.

Conclusions: The volunteering of adolescents is contributing to the development of subjective well-being and future orientation, and several other important attributes in the adjustment of adolescents, such as leadership abilities. Hence, the volunteering of adolescents combines both personal and societal development, and as such – the social contribution of volunteering is manifested in building a strong and sustainable base of the future generation as active and involved citizens.

Improving Service users’ participation in the education of social workers: a win-win situation for both social work students & service-users

Marian Van der Sypt

Arteveldehogeschool, Gent, Belgium, Belgium

Background and purpose:

The general aim of the Erasmus+ project “Social workers’education and Service users’participation: sharing experciences and improving skills” is to create a framework of service user participation in Social Work education. We explore how the participation of service users in Social Work Education can be a win-win for both parties (not only the students, but also the service users themselves). We depart from the theoretical framework of empowerment of service users on the one hand and the development of professional identity of students on the other hand.

Methods: (a) Literature research and (b) qualitative research with representatives of service user organisations by means of interviews & focus groups and (c) participating observation of good practices in which service users are involved in education in Belgium, Sweden and France.

Findings: (1) Diverse theoretical models will be outlined that provide a framework for the implementation of service users’ participation in education. (2) Qualitative research findings will be available about the potential gains and potential pittfalls of involving service users in Social Work education. What types of interventions do have the biggest impact? What do service users learn from it? How does it have an effect on the personal frame of reference of students (as part of their professional identity)?

Conclusions and implications: Based on these findings, we will be able to give recommendations about how to structurally implement service users’ participation in Social Work Education in x regions (Belgium, France, Sweden…)


“Je Binnenste Buiten. Over professionele identiteit in organisaties.” Manon C.P. Ruijters (Red.) en collega’s, 2015 Vakmedianet, Deventer, ISBN 978 94 6276 0318

“Met Passie naar Professionaliteit.” Bertus Leijenhorst, Uitg. Boom Lemma Uitgevers, Productcode (EAN): 9789462363779

Social work students call Experts by experience during Covid-19 pandemic. A research on an experiential learning activity

Elena Cabiati, Camilla Landi, Laura Pinto

Catholic University of Milan, Italy

The involvement of service users’ knowledge into social work education programs is a long-standing experience at the Catholic University of Milan and Brescia (Italy), and most activities are performed through direct face to face interactions between EBE and students.

For many years, Full day meetings represent the first in depth experience that first-year students have with EBE. At the core of the Full day meeting program is a two-hour face-to-face conversation between undergraduate student and EBE randomly matched. The activity usually takes place at the University.

In the spring of 2020, due to containment measures adopted by the Italian Government to face with Covid-19 pandemic, direct face to face Full day meetings between social work students and Experts by experience were suspended for the first time in ten years. This concrete impediment, together with the desire to continue to expose students to the experiential knowledge of service users and carers, encouraged educators in developing a new initiative named «Social work student calls Expert by experience». Participants were 119 social work students and 69 Experts by Experience. The experimental activity consisted of a telephone or video call between a single student and a single Expert by experience. The experience was researched. After the call, students were invited to fill in an online format, describing the lived experience through a short story to an imaginary friend. From the content analysis of the students’ stories, carried out by MAXQDA 2020 software, emerged tree main themes: the learnings that students feel they have acquired through the activity; students’ feelings before, during and after the call with EBE; students’ opinions about the proposed activity.

Findings show that the telephone conversation had an impact on social work students, in particular on learnings and motivations to become social workers.

Authors will present the rationale, the methodology and the findings of the activity to contribute to the debate on the participation of Experts by Experience in social work education programs via new media, as telephone or internet.

Challenges and barriers of adventure-based learning as a method of youth work

Anna Barbara Jarkiewicz

Univeristy of Łódź, Poland

Two main purposes of the presentation are to introduce the appliance of adventure-based learning as a method of youth work elaborated within the educational international project Empowering Youth – Successful youth practices in Europe (EMPYRE)), and to present research findings focusing on the empowering potential of outdoor learning in terms of social participation, employability, and equality. It will discuss and reflect upon the empowering opportunities that arise as well as the limitation. The basic aim of the research conducted within EMPYRE is to reconstruct of youth work in selected institutions and its participatory transformation. In order to reconstruct of the subjective perspective of youth, teachers and managers in the study a bottom-up approach was taken. Data were collected through 3 group interviews in 3 countries (Poland, Finland and Wales). All of the group interviews were kept small (four-six participants), and they took the form of informal discussions.

EMPYRE is an educational international project conducted as part of the ERASMUS+ programme Key Action 2: Strategic Partnerships in 2019-21. The project has been funded with support of the European Commission (Grant Number 2019-1-FI01-KA205-060668). Project participants include both academics from the following institutions: University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (Austria); XAMK University of Applied Sciences (Finland), University of Łódź (Poland), Bangor University (Wales, UK) and practitioners from the following organisations for youth: Centre of Expertise for Municipal Youth Work Kanuuna (Finland); Planetarium (Poland); GISDA cyf (Wales, UK). The project focuses on work with youth that for different reasons (social, economic, cultural etc.) is at risk of social exclusion. The basic aim of the project is to explore, evaluate, develop, and disseminate effective social and educational practices that emphasise social empowerment, increasing chances on the labour market, increasing social participation, and preventing social exclusion.

“I am not just a user”: innovative social work teaching practice and the co-creation of knowledges

Anna Broka1, Anette Nielsen2, Doris Scheer3

1Tallinn University, Latvia; 2University College South Denmark; 3Diakonie Schleswig-Holstein

Globalisation is a major driving force for the economisation and privatisation of social services (Beck,1986; Bauman, 2003 etc.). European societies are facing many different challenges, i.e., pressure on social coherence, socio-economic and public health. These challenges call for transformative (Illeris 2009) and innovative approaches to social work practice, incl. a change of perspective. This entails innovative teaching and learning strategies for teachers of social work, social work students, social service providers and service users as it questions professional identities and set frames of habitual behavior of all parties involved (Mezirow,1990; Illeris, 2014; Brookfield, 2005). In the Interreg Baltic Sea Region project SEMPRE, we – a consortium of sixteen different partners around the Baltic Sea, tested a range of participatory tools as well as an action learning approach to learning and teaching empowerment to social work students and on-the-job for professionals (SEMPRE Guidebook for Empowerment Training). In this contribution we want to share and reflect our project-based insights into the co-creation of knowledges and offer a draft for an empowering social work educational agenda which is informed by reflective practice (Carr & Kemmis, 1986). We understand ‘empowerment’ (Freire, 2000) as encouraging processes of self-enabling and managing and deciding one’s own affairs (Herriger, 2014). It can be viewed as a bottom-up approach to enrich and improve social work and services with knowledges and insights gained from the receiving end of social support – from social service users. We developed Action Learning as a way of working with empowerment (SEMPRE Guidebook for Empowerment training). We will present a critical approach to Action Learning (Trehan 2011) as a method of the co-creation of knowledges which bridge the barriers between students, social workers, users and educators. We will contribute with practical examples and discuss dilemmas, advantages and disadvantages.

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