The use of visual imagery and reflective writing as a measure of social work students' capstone experience

Orton, Dianne J. (2007-03)

Thesis (DPhil (Social Work))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


Traditional means for social work students to share their capstone field work experiences in the academic setting have primarily focused on articulating this experience using verbal skills, reports and other forms of written documentation. The ability of students to explain the nuances of agency environments, clientele, the acquisition and demonstration of transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, organizing and planning skills and critical thinking abilities in a descriptively rich fashion is quite limited. The aim of the study is to determine the perceived meaning, and significance of students’ photographed artifacts. This qualitative study incorporated an exploratory design using visual imagery, reflective writing techniques and photo-elicitation interviews. This process provided students the opportunity to illustrate the depth and breath of their capstone field work experiences. The study resulted in 110 participant-produced photographs taken in three domains: At the agency, Outside the agency and Personal. Six overarching themes developed from the analyzed data: (1) safety, (2) environment and atmosphere, (3) transportation, (4) frustration and stress, (5) inspiration, coping and hope and (6) transferable skills. The findings reflect the unique perspective of students’ capstone field work experience that can be shared with social work students, educators, and practitioners.

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