Journal Article

Impact of Problem-Based Learning on Social Work Students: Growth and Limits

Debbie O. B. Lam

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 39, issue 8, pages 1499-1517
Published in print December 2009 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online May 2008 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcn073
Impact of Problem-Based Learning on Social Work Students: Growth and Limits

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Social workers are expected to constantly improve their knowledge and experience and respond quickly to new challenges. Educators appreciate the significance of learning how to learn to prepare students for real-life demands at work. For these reasons, problem-based learning (PBL) has been used experimentally in the training of different disciplines including social work. In recent years, the University of Hong Kong implemented PBL to cultivate social work students' self-directed learning and group learning/collaboration abilities. A PBL Questionnaire was devised to assess the growth of students in these areas. Students were invited to fill in the PBLQ at the beginning and at the end of the PBL programme. Two focus groups of graduates and agency supervisors were also conducted to see how PBL training might affect work performance. The PBLQ scores reflected a varied personal growth profile across the different student cohorts. The training stimulated their growth in employing multiple sources of learning, directing their own learning goals and activities, and teamwork collaboration. But growth in group learning abilities was not found. While there was positive feedback from the graduates and supervisors, generalization of the findings requires more rigorous exploration.

Keywords: Problem-based learning; social work training; self-directed learning; group learning; teamwork

Journal Article.  6432 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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