SW0416 - Critical Reflection

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This module aims to provide the initial foundations for acquisition and critical appraisal of knowledge with which to support learning across the programme and evidence informed professional judgements in practice. These foundations will include acquisition of information skills, basic skills of reflection and an understanding of fundamental principles of research and knowledge creation and include consideration of relevant ethical issues. Learning and teaching will comprise seminars and lectures and supported use of Northumbria University Study Skills Resources. Summative Assessment will be a structured enquiry based task, demonstrating the ability to find and appraise evidence in relation to a given practice based topic.
Formative assessment early in the semester comprises identification of a relevant journal article and presentation of this to peers, who along with staff will offer feedback. Students will have the opportunity to amend and submit this to staff for annotation


Books and Reports

Davidson, J. (2005) Professional relationship boundaries: a social work teaching module. Social Work Education, 24: 5, 511-533.
Greetham, B. (2001) How to write better essays. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Healy, K. and Mulholland, J. (2007) Writing skills for social workers. London: Sage.
Mathews, I. and Crawford, K. (2011) Evidence-based practice in social work. Exeter: Learning Matters.
McLaughlin, H. (2007) Understanding social work research. London: Sage.
Pawson, R., Boaz, A., Grayson, L., Long, A. & Barnes, C. (2003) Knowledge
review; types and quality of knowledge in social care. Bristol: The Policy Press.
Stogdon, C. and Kiteley, R. (2010) Study skills for social workers. London: Sage.
Thompson, S. & Thompson, N. (2008) The critically reflective practitioner. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Knott, C. and T. Spragg (2010) Reflective practice in social work. 2nd Edn. Exeter:
Learning Matters.
Whittaker, A. (2009) Research skills for social work. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Journal Articles

Osmond, J., & Darlington, Y. (2005) ‘Reflective analysis: Techniques for
facilitating reflection’, Australian social work, 58(1), pp.3-14.

Electronic Resources

Selected materials from Northumbria Skills Plus:
Social Care Institute for Excellence website: www.scie.org.uk


The curriculum will include:

Introduction to Information and study skills
- Searching skills
- Referencing skills

Ways of knowing
- Evidence and knowledge
- Building blocks of social work knowledge
- Interrogating knowledge
- Starting to think critically

Reflective practice
- Principles of reflection
- Models of reflection
- Applying models of reflection

Knowledge from research
- Introduction to qualitative and qualitative research approaches
- Introduction to research methods
- Ethical issues in research


This module aims to support learners to move from entry level to being able to draw on a range of information and appraisal skills to support learning on the whole programme.
This addresses the need to recognise the impact of differences of viewpoint where gathering information and the early skills in being able to appraise the reliability and relevance of the information gathered. The module also aims to foster critical curiosity and the skills to address real life issues.
This module is the first in the thread which scaffolds learning in relation to critical reflection and enquiry within the Professional Capabilities framework. This module leads on to SW0512 ‘Critical Enquiry’, which will focus on developing an understanding of research as a source of knowledge and application of evidence to practice situations.


On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Recognise and describe why evidence is important in social work practice
2. Demonstrate the ability to locate appropriate evidence to support an understanding of practice issues
3. Demonstrate the ability to appraise the quality of evidence to support practice
4. Identify their own standpoint on what is known
5. Understand the role of reflective practice and demonstrate basic skills of reflection
6. Understand the need to construct hypotheses in social work practice with an awareness of ethical issues


SW0411, SW0412, SW0413, SW0414, SW0415


Learning and teaching will be based on lectures and work in seminars. Students will also be encouraged to study independently and in small groups using Northumbria Skills Plus resources. Seminar work will include support accessing Skills Plus resources and appraisal of peer reviewed journal articles. Students will be asked to reflect on what is known and their own standpoint on this, and seminars will aim to offer a safe space for debate.


A Summative assessment and rationale for tasks

Structured enquiry based task demonstrating the ability to find and collate evidence in relation to a given practice topic (1,500 words). This aims to support academic study in the rest of the programme.

b. Additional formative assessment – detail of process and rationale
Formative assessment early in the semester comprises identification of a relevant journal article and presentation of this to peers, who along with staff will offer feedback. Students will also have the opportunity to submit a brief annotated reference list to staff for feedback.
c. Indication of how students will get feedback and how this will support their learning
Students will be given written feedback on the formative reference list from staff. Staff will give written feedback on the summative task.

Course info

UCAS Code L502

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time

Department Social Work, Education & Community Wellbeing

Location Coach Lane Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2020 or September 2021

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