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Evaluating Social Work Education: A Review of Outcomes, Measures, Research Designs and Practicalities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122 - 140
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number2
DatePublished - 2011


This review considers how the outcomes of social work education can be identified with reference to Kirkpatrick's framework of levels of outcomes and Kraiger et al.’s general model of learning outcomes. It presents examples of different approaches to the measurement of outcomes and to the use of research designs in social work education and interprofessional education involving social workers and social work students. These examples are drawn from a search of the English language literature (1997–2010). Three-quarters of the studies (23 out of 31) found measured changes in attitudes and/or knowledge and skills only. Seven measured changes in social workers’ behaviour and only one measured the impact on service users’ lives. Three-quarters employed pre–post one group designs. The advantages and disadvantages of alternative research designs are discussed. Finally some practicalities regarding the development of an outcomes-based culture in university-based education are considered.

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