An inquiry into the role of adverse childhood experiences in teaching and learning in social work

Dykes, Glynnis Zena (2014-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The impetus for this study is contextualised within social work teaching and learning and arose from the emergence of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) of social work students. The researcher had become increasingly interested in the ways in which these ACEs impacted on students in social work classrooms and felt compelled to enquire what the responses of teaching and learning in social work should be. The rationale for the study was further established by the dearth of research in this focal area. The research goal was to gain an understanding of the experiences of third-year students and the perspectives of social work teachers with regard to the role of adverse childhood experiences during teaching and learning activities and to recommend meaningful teaching practices. There were seven research objectives that focused on obtaining theoretical perspectives from the literature and on exploring and describing the adverse childhood experiences of students within the context of teaching and learning in social work. The research objectives generated the central research question: What are the learning experiences of third-year social work students at a South African university with regard to the role of their own adverse childhood experiences? A qualitative approach and case study design was deemed the most appropriate research philosophy and method to address the study’s objectives and central research question. The case study design was used to explore how individuals (third-year social work students at the University of the Western Cape) experienced a particular phenomenon (in this case adverse childhood experiences) in relation to teaching and learning within a social work context. To provide credence to the two purposes of this research, namely exploring and describing, two methods and two sources of data were utilised: (i) a reflective assignment in a specific social work third-year module from which 20 assignments were selected using purposive sampling; and (ii) individual interviews with ten student participants (derived from the sample of assignments) and two teaching staff participants. Three overarching topics emerged from the findings, namely the adverse childhood experiences of student participants; the after-effects of adverse childhood experiences in the context of teaching and learning in social work; and suggestions by participants for social work teaching and learning in the context of adverse childhood experiences. Each topic was delineated further into themes, sub-themes, and categories. The conclusions are that there was compelling evidence showing students to have endured formidable adverse childhood experiences; that students experienced overwhelming emotional reactions and responses during teaching and learning that exposed vicarious traumatisation; and that gaps present in current teaching and learning practices in social work render these practices insufficient to meet the learning needs of students. Three core recommendations relating to teaching and learning are offered: To develop the content of professional learning in the social work curriculum regarding the professional use of self, self-awareness and virtue ethics; to reconstruct and reaffirm the signature pedagogy regarding teaching and learning approaches and methods in social work; and to align fieldwork and placement learning with student profiles while also focusing on lecturer attentiveness and responsiveness.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die impetus vir hierdie studie is vervat in die onderrig en leer in maatskaplike werk van maatskaplike werk studente wat afbrekende kindertydse ervarings (AKE’s) deurgemaak het. Die navorser, wie se belangstelling al hoe meer geprikkel is deur die wyse waarop hierdie AKE’s studente in maatskaplike werk in die lesingsaal beïnvloed, is genoodsaak om inligting in te win oor wat die reaksie op onderrig en leer in maatskaplike werk behoort te wees. Die rasionaal vir die studie is verder deur die gebrek aan navorsing in hierdie fokusarea versterk. Die doel van die navorsings was om begrip vir die ervarings van derdejaarstudente en die perspektiewe van maatskaplikewerkdosente te ontwikkel oor die rol van AKE’s tydens onderrig- en leeraktiwiteite, en om betekenisvolle onderrigpraktyke aan te beveel. Die fokus van die sewe navorsingsdoelwitte was die inwin van teoretiese perspektiewe, asook die eksplorering en beskrywing van studente se AKE’s binne die konteks van die onderrig en leer van maatskaplike werk. Die navorsingsdoelwitte het die sentrale navorsingsvraag gegenereer: Hoe ervaar derdejaarstudente hul eie afbrekende kindertydse ervarings in maatskaplike werk aan ’n Suid-Afrikaanse universiteit? n Kwalitatiewe benadering en gevallestudiemetode is as geskikte metodes beskou om die studie se doelwitte en sentrale navorsingsvraag te ondersoek. Die gevallestudiemetode is gebruik om na te vors hoe individue (derdejaarstudente in maatskaplike werk aan die Universiteit van Wes-Kaapland) ’n spesifieke fenomeen (in hierdie geval AKE’s) ten opsigte van onderrig en leer binne die konteks van maatskaplike werk ervaar. Om geloofwaardigheid te verleen aan die twee doelwitte van hierdie navorsing, naamlik ’n verkennings ondersoek en beskrywing, is van twee metodes en twee databronne gebruik gemaak: (i) ’n Reflektiewe taak in ’n spesifieke derdejaarmodule in maatskaplike werk waaruit 20 take met behulp van ’n doelbewuste steekproef gekies is; en (ii) individuele onderhoude met tien deelnemende studente (gekies uit die steekproef van take), en twee deelnemende dosente. Drie oorkoepelende onderwerpe het uit die bevindinge na vore gekom, naamlik die AKE’s van studentedeelnemers; die nagevolge van afbrekende kindertydse ervarings binne die konteks van die onderrig en leer van maatskaplike werk; en voorstelle van deelnemers vir onderrig en leer van maatskaplike werk binne die konteks van AKE’s. Elke onderwerp word verder in temas, subtemas en kategorieë weergegee. Die gevolgtrekking is dat oortuigende bewyse bestaan wat toon dat studente ontsaglik AKE’s deurgemaak het; dat studente oorweldigende emosionele reaksies en response ervaar tydens onderrig en leer wat tot indirekte traumatisering lei; en dat daar tekortkominge is in die huidige onderrig- en leermetodes vir maatskaplike werk wat nie genoegsaam aandag gee aan die leerbehoeftes van studente nie. Daar is drie kernaanbevelings rakende onderrig en leer: Om die omvang van professionele leer ten opsigte van die professionele gebruik van die self, selfbewustheid en deugsaamheid in die maatskaplike werk-kurrikulum te ontwikkel; om maatskaplike werk se kenmerkende pedagogie oor onderrig- en leerbenaderings en metodes te rekonstrueer en te herbevestig; en om praktiese plasing en leer tydens plasing met die profiel van ’n student te belyn, terwyl die fokus ook op die oplettendheid en reaksie van die dosent moet wees.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/96119
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