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).

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Session Overview
Workshops 26-27: Using Literature to Help Students Connect to the Lives of Service Users in the Context of an Interconnected World; Exploring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on your professional identity: an interactive workshop
Friday, 18/June/2021:
3:30pm - 5:00pm

Location: Parallel Session 5

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Using Literature to Help Students Connect to the Lives of Service Users in the Context of an Interconnected World

Yolanda C. Padilla1, Nadia Kalman2, Quynh Nhu {Natasha} La Frinere-Sandoval1

1University of Texas at Austin; 2Words Without Borders

There are things that others can’t imagine for you. Through literature, we see life through the eyes of other human beings, in the unique socio-geographic-political and cultural contexts of their lives. “Literary experiences create emotional tensions that can later be assimilated in actual experiences,” according to Literature as Exploration by Louise Rosenblatt. Moreover, narrative literature has been shown to be more effective in motivating empathy, ethical reasoning, and critical thinking than factual expository literature (facts, theories, analyses) alone. As such, literature offers a powerful avenue to meaningfully connect social work students to the lives of service users.

We introduce a piloted teaching method that uses international literature to help prepare social work students to connect with service users in the context of a globally interconnected world, which we are developing at the Council on Social Work Education in the United States. We are teaming up with Words Without Borders Campus (WWB Campus), an organization that makes contemporary international literature in translation accessible to students and educators. WWB Campus curates books and short form literature, including memoirs and other narrative non-fiction and fiction. Although using literature to teach about social issues and interculturality is used in other disciplines, it has not been widely applied in U.S. social work education.

Step-by-step teaching procedure for student learning module:

Step 1. Read stories about confronting social barriers, such as immigrant/refugee stories. The most effective learning approach is to allow students to choose their readings among a subset curated by the instructor.

Step 2. Explore multi-media learning resources provided for each reading (a) author bios, socio-geographic-political and cultural context, maps, and images, which are on the WWB Campus web site and (b) supplementary resources with direct applications to social work practice that we have compiled and linked to each reading.

Step 3. Engage in various learning activities intended to (a) motivate empathy, ethical reasoning, and critical thinking, and (b) gain skills in interculturality, such as those introduced in the UNESCO Guidelines on Intercultural Education, involving the ability to listen, to wonder, and to dialogue.

Step 4: Participate in a student pre- and post-test evaluation.

Exploring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on your professional identity: an interactive workshop for social work practitioners and educators.

Fran Wiles

The Open University, United Kingdom

Has the Covid-19 pandemic changed your professional identity as a social work practitioner, student or educator? I invite you to join me in an exploration, through drawing and small group discussion, of the different ways in which we conceptualise social work professionalism and our professional identities. This will include the opportunity to reflect on how this identity might be affected during an unexpected national or global event. The workshop method models a teaching activity which social work educators could adapt to use with their students.

The workshop begins with a brief presentation of my own research and teaching about professional identity. Developing an individual and collective professional identity appears to be important for social workers’ resilience and motivation. In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am interested in social work’s response and the potential implications for professional identity. The terms professionalism and professional identity are conceptualised differently (and for different purposes) according to the varied perspectives of social workers, employers, politicians and professional organisations. In developing their professional identities, therefore, social workers and students draw on a wide range of discourses transmitted through the curriculum, workplace learning, regulatory and public expectations. This professional identity is not always straightforward or easily achieved. Social work has frequently struggled - and in some situations continues to struggle - to be accepted as a professional occupation and as an academic discipline. Social workers can also feel ambivalent about the profession’s role and status. Despite these challenges, my recently published research (produced with a colleague) found that regardless of variations in social work roles and practice settings, there is a shared collective identity which transcends national boundaries.

In the main part of the workshop participants will be invited to share their perspectives on professional identity, using a ‘rich picture’ approach in small groups; and to reflect on the factors that have influenced and sustained their professional identities, including experiences of the pandemic.

Finally, participants will be asked to share suggestions and techniques for supporting social work students to learn about their own professional identities as a source of collective strength and resilience.

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