Journal Article

The Impact of Social Work Student Failure upon Practice Educators

Fern Basnett and David Sheffield

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 40, issue 7, pages 2119-2136
Published in print October 2010 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online February 2010 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
The Impact of Social Work Student Failure upon Practice Educators

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This study explored the impact that failing a social work student had upon their Practice Educator (PE). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight PEs who had failed a social work student and the resulting transcripts were examined using interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) ( Smith, 2008). Two dominant themes, Professional Identity and Well-Being, emerged that provided a framework to understand the failure event. Within this framework, three categories were identified which followed the placement timeline: Locating the problem; Coping; and Closure (see Figure 1). Study results were understood using psychological theories of stress and coping, such as the Transactional Model of Stress (TMS) ( Lazarus and Folkman, 1984, 1987) and the Demand Control Support theory (DCS) ( Karasek, 1989). The results show the emotional and practical strategies used by PEs to cope with the stress associated with student failure, and highlight the vulnerability of PEs whose failure recommendation was unconfirmed, rejected by the university or who were isolated from colleague support.

Keywords: Placement failure; practice educator

Journal Article.  6437 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Work

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