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Adult learning styles: Implications for practice teaching in social work



This paper focuses on the current aspiration to further the process of continuing professional development in social work. It contends that knowledge from the field of adult learning theory may be helpful in sign-posting some tangible ways forward here. The particular emphasis is on critically assessing the usefulness of identifying learning styles as indicators of preferred ways of learning. Knowledge of learning styles is explored as one way of promoting students' learning on practice placements. A small-scale qualitative research study with a group of practice teachers and their students is presented as a vehicle for exploring this new terrain in social work. The findings of this research build on key themes identified by the current literature in this area. The author's findings suggest that information about learning styles has direct practical application in the social work practice teaching arena. The data points to the potential value of using such information to guide students' learning on practice placements and has relevance to considerations of their continuing professional development. Suggestions are put forward to highlight how practice teaching and Diploma in Social Work programmes could facilitate this process. The paper stresses the over-riding need to view students as actors in a broader social context, however, and highlights how information regarding learning styles needs to be utilised in this context.
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Social Work Education
ISSN: 0261-5479 (Print) 1470-1227 (Online) Journal homepage:
Adult learning styles: Implications for practice
teaching in social work
Pat Cartney
To cite this article: Pat Cartney (2000) Adult learning styles: Implications for practice teaching
in social work, Social Work Education, 19:6, 609-626, DOI: 10.1080/02615470020002335
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Published online: 25 Aug 2010.
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Adult learning styles: implications for
practice teaching in social work
Abstract This paper focuses on the current aspiration to further the process of cont inuing
professional development in social wor k. It contends that knowledge from the ® eld of adult lea rning
theory may be helpful in sign-posting some tangible ways forward here. The particular emphasis is
on critical ly assessing the usefulness of identifying learning styles as indicators o f preferred ways of
learning. Knowledge of learning styles is explored as one way of promoting students’ learning on
practice placements. A small-scale qualitative research study with a group of practice teachers and
their students is presented as a vehicle for exploring this new terrain in social work.
The ® ndings of this research build on key themes identi® ed by the current literature in this area.
The author’s ® ndings suggest that information about learning styles has direct practical application
in the social work practice teaching arena. The data points to the potential value of using such
information to guide students’ learning on practice placements and has relevance to considerations of
their continuing pro fessional development. Suggestions are put forw ard to highlight how practice
teaching and Diplo ma in Social Work programmes could facilitate this process. The paper stresses the
over-riding need to view students as actors in a broader social context, however, and highlights how
information regarding learning styles needs to be utilised in this contex t.
The National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Edu cation, chaired by Lord Dearing, was
appointed in May 1996 to advise on the long-term development of higher education in the
United Kingdom over the next 20 years. The committee submitted its report in July 1997.
One key aspect of this report was its focus on the need to promote developing lifelong
learning by adults. Such a foc us is clearly congruent with rec ent developments in the ® eld of
social work education where the emphasis is on developing a continuum of learning for
professional social workers, particularly in the post-qualifying arena (CCETSW, 1992,
1993). This is also timely because of the new initiatives proposed by TOPSS and the renewed
interest in `continuing professional development’ in the social care arena. For such lifelong
learning to become a reality, however, the Dearing report noted that a number of key chan ges
need to be made in relatio n to how adults are encouraged to learn. One key recommendation
of the Dearing report (1997, p. 42) was that, `¼ with immediate effect all institutions of
higher education give high priority to developing and implementing learning and teaching
strategies w hich focus on the p romotion of st udents’ learning’ .
Social work education has its base in institutions of higher education and it is from this
premise that such learning and teaching strategies need to be encouraged. Effective collabo-
Correspondence to: Pat Cartney, Senior Lecturer i n Social Work, School of Social Work, Middlesex University,
Queensway, En® eld EN3 4SF, UK.
ISSN 0261-5479 print; 1470-1227 online/00/060609± 19 Ó2000 The Board of Social Work Education
DOI: 10.1080/026154700200 02335
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rative arrangements between institutions of higher education and practice agencies respon-
sible for providing practic e placements appears to be a particularly fe rtile arena for such
developments to take place. In this context it is interesting to note Dearing’ s (1997, p. 15)
® n ding that, `The strongest sin gle message which we received from employers was the value
of work experience’ .
In relation to social work education, students studying for their Diploma in Social Work
are clearly at a crucial juncture in their continuum of professional learning and this experi-
ence clearly has implications both for the type of opportunities subsequently afforded to them
as lifelong learners within the post -qualifying framework and their response to these opportu-
nities. For this reason, and because of the importance attached to work-based learning, it
appears particularly pertinent to focus on ways in which DipSW practice placements may be
encouraged to adopt teaching and learning strategies where the focus is on promoting
students’ learning. CCETSW’ s revised requirements for practice teaching (CCETSW, 1998,
p. 13) do signal the need to, `Promote and value student self-determination within an adu lt
learning process’. This is identi® ed as a key element of competence in practice teaching.
It is a key argument of this paper that social work education should look to the theory and
practice of adult learning to provide a way forward for our professional development in this
area. If aspirations for such development, called upon by Assuring Quality (CCETSW, 1998)
and the White Paper, Modernising Social Services (De partment of Health, 1998), are to be
achieved, we need to address how this will be taken forward. The research undertaken by
Taylor (1997) and Taylor and Burgess (1995), into the u se of enquiry and action learning on
the social work programme at Bristol University provides some useful pointers here. This
work explores how co ncepts from adult learning theory can illuminate the propositional,
process and person al constituents of professional knowledge. As a profession, however, we
appear to be at the early stages of engaging with this proc ess. In the CCETSW Paper,
Learning for Advanced Practice (CCETS W, 1993) a single page was devoted to cons idering
teaching styles and adult learning. CCETSW commented here that more needs to be known
about the relationship between teaching styles and adult learning styles on social work
programmes. As Doel and Shardlow (1996, p. 27) point out, `¼ there is much research and
writing in the higher and adult education arena that is ripe for testing in social work contexts’ .
From practice supervision to practice teaching
Practice placements are a cornerstone of professional training for social workers. Throughout
the 1990s changes in the Diploma in Social Work, giving greate r emphasis to competence in
practice and the related ® eld of practice teaching, have moved practice teaching to the centre
of social work edu cation. Such changes involved rede® ning the previously limited role of
student supervisor to the more comprehensive one of practice teacher (CCETSW, 1998).
The superviso ry role of practice teachers still remains but the expectation is that practice
teachers will now also incorporate broader active teaching responsibilities within their
extended remit (Davies & Kinoch, 1991; Doel & Shardlow, 1996). The Practice Teaching
Award asses ses practice teachers on their ability to teach about social work, rather than simply
supervise a student’s practice (CCE TSW, 1998).
This shift in focus raises several questions relating to the pote ntial complexity of the
relationship between social work practice and how practitioners teach it. Is it assumed, for
example that skilled social work practitioners automatically develop into skilled practice
teachers? Might it be the case that different skills and knowledge are required for such a
transition to take place? As a result of her analysis of practice teachers’ training in Ho ng Kong
and the People’s Republic of China, Shuk-fo ng Ng-Wan (1996) argues that in Hong Kong
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social work educators fully realise that experienced practitioners do not necessarily become
competent practice teachers. She utilises Paulo Freire’ s (1970) terminology when she argue s
The integration of social work knowledge, skills and values and their applicatio n to
life situations is an art to be acquired by s tudents: this process cannot be achieved
merely by taking the `savings’ from an experience d so cial worker’ s `bank of knowl-
edge’ ¼ Social workers, as practice teachers, are not just `depositors’ transferring
knowledge to stu dents ¼ On the contrary, practice teachers have to understand the
learning style and learning nee ds of students ¼ (Shuk- fong Ng-Wan, 1996, p. 159).
In this context it appears pertinent to question the process through which practice teachers
are expected to learn how to teach. How do people move from social work practitioners to
practice teachers? How might practice teachers be encouraged to utilise learning and teaching
strategies that focus on the promotion of student’s learning? What part, if any, could
knowledge drawn from adult learning theo ry play in this process? How might understanding
learning styles aid the te aching and learning process and promote students’ learning? These
are clearly very broad questions but ones that need to be addressed by the social work
profession if the opportunities to promote st udents’ learning and to foster a climate of
continuing professional development are to be grasped appropriately.
Focusing on learning styles
Whilst focusing on the area of learning styles clearly touches on the broader issues relating to
the complexity of the relationship between social work and practice teaching, it also allows for
a more limited analysis of one particular aspect of the teaching process. Many commentators
have noted the importance of understanding learning styles in the supervisor± student rela-
tionship. Fox and Guild (1987) discuss the relevance of learning styles to clinical supervision.
They argue that stylistic differences in cognition, conceptualisation, affect and behaviour are
all interrelated and that the ability to recognise workers’ le arning styles makes it possible for
the supervisor to ` ª start where the worker isº in designing the most individualized instructive
methods’ . These conclus ions are supported in the work of Kadushin (1992), Papell (1978)
and Shuk-fong Ng-Wan (1996).
Less research has been conducted speci® cally in the context of social work practice
teaching. The literature available does raise several important issues. Gardiner (1989) refers
to the issue that social work students enter practice placements with learning styles that may
or may not be compatible with the learning style of the practice teacher. The implications of
such similarities and differences, however, are not explored in any depth. This whole
question about `matching’ and `mismatching’ is important in relation to profes sional edu-
cation and training. Social work students today need to develop a range of approaches to
learning which are ad aptable in different contexts. Whether the matching or mismatching of
styles facilitates or hampers such deve lopment does need to be addressed.
Studies by Tsang (1993) in Hong Kong and Kruzich et al. (1986), both focused on social
work students’ learning styles. Interestingly, they explored not only the relationship between
the learning style of students and their practice teachers but also the in¯ uence of the
predominant style of teachers within the academic institutions too, encouraging the stude nt
to capitalise on learning opportunities available t o them within the placement setting. Tsang’s
study in particular noted shifts over time in students’ learning styles depending upon context,
i.e. whether they w ere in the academic institution or on a practice place ment. Such a ® nding
hints here at a potential problem for learning style theorists and the implications of this have
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not been fully addressed in the literature. If styles vary depending on context, for example,
they may not be relatively stable characteristics of an individual but more ¯ uid concepts that
are changeable in different situations. Pratt and associates (1998, p. 125) argue that, `Both
the institution al context ¼ and the personal context ¼ play an importan t role in determining
the approach taken by a learner’ . Such a critique needs to be considered when asse ssing the
relevance of us ing learning styles as a teaching tool.
Several learning styles questionnaires have been designed. In the United States, for
example, Campbell (1991) documented 32 commercially published instruments used to
assess different dimensions of learning styles. Such an extens ive range of instruments may be
regarded as `an embarrassment of riches’ and result in a bewildering range of de® nitions
concerning learning styles and their conceptualisation (Curry, 1990).
This paper focuses on the use of Honey and Mumford’ s (1986) `Learning Styles Q uestion-
naire’ , for several reason s. Firstly, from a pragmatic perspective, this is the questionnaire that
is most frequ ently used on practic e teacher programmes (Shardlow & Doel, 1996). Fu rther-
more, this questionnaire builds on the earlier work of Kolb (1976) who identi® ed key
differences in preferred ways of learning among adults. Four preferred learning styles are
identi® ed by Honey and Mum ford (1986).
·Activists: who ope rate in the `here and now’. They enjoy the challenge of new experiences
but become bored with implementation and consolidation. They are quick to move into
action and enjoy activity ce ntred around themselves. A student with this preferred learning
style is likely to ben t from `hands on’ practical experience at an early stage of a practice
·Re¯ ectors: who observe and evaluate situations from a range of different perspectives before
reaching a de® nitive conclusion. They draw upon a wide perspective and look at the past
as well as the present. They are cautious and seek the observations of others as well as their
own before they act. A student with this preferred learning style is likely to bene® t from
learning experiences being introduc ed at a slower pace. Observing others conducting
interviews, appearing in court etc. could offer appropriate opportunities for learning.
·Theorists: who integrate observations into complex but logically sound theories. They think
through problems in a vertical, systematic manner and assimilate disparate facts into
coherent theories. A student with this preferred style of learning is likely to bene® t from a
logically cohere nt learning package where connections between the differing learning
opportunities are clearly established.
·Pragmatists: who enjoy trying out new ideas and theories and testing out how they can be
applied in practice. They like to act quickly and adopt a practical, problem-solving
approach to situations. A student with this preferred learning style is likely to bene® t from
learning experiences where theoretical understandings are linked directly to the process
and outcome of the work undertaken.
Honey and Mumford (1986) developed a self-administered questionnaire of 80 statements
which respondents either agree or disagree with. The majority of statements are be havioural
as they describe actions which people may or may not undertake. The `Learning Styles
Questionnaire’ is aimed at highlightin g an individual’ s pre ferred style of learning. The
identi® ed learning styles are intended to demonstrate how people have learnt in the past and
to predict from this how they w ill learn best in the future.
Care needs to be taken, however, when using this questionnaire with social workers and
their students. The empirical studies on which Honey and Mumfo rd’ s (1986) ® ndings are
based consisted of predominantly male managers and no indication is given about the
number of respondents who were black or from other ethnic minority groups (Shardlow &
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Doel, 1996). Perceptions on the usefulness of this speci® c questionnaire are explored in this
There have been a number of critiques offered in the literature relating to Kolb’ s Learning
Style Inventory, which Honey and Mumford drew upon heavily when compiling their
questionnaire (Jenkins, 1981; Kruzich et al., 1986; Mark & Menson, 1982). Kolb’ s Learning
Styles Inventory developed as a practical application of Kolb’s `experiential learning model’ .
Tennant (1988) se es this as an important factor when comparing Kolb’ s inve ntory with other
questionnaires in this area. He argues, however, that Kolb’s model cannot be generalised to
all learning environments and claims that the re sulting inventory has no capacity, therefo re,
to adequately measu re the degree of integration of learning styles. He states that, `Indeed it
really only measures the relative preference of one set of words over another in describing
learning styles’ (Tennant, 1988, p. 105). An alternative perspective is offered here by Pigg et
al. (1980) who explored the effectiven ess of Kolb’ s Learning Styles Inventory in identifying
learning styles when designing educational programmes in Kentucky. On the basis of their
study they conc luded that the inventory was able to capture ten dencies in personal learning
behaviours and that it had a high degree of face validity.
The basic orientation of Kolb’ s theory has also been questioned from a social work
perspective. Taylor and Burgess (1995) acknowledge that Kolb’s work has been in¯ uential in
the ® eld of adult education but they express concern that his learning styles theory tends to
imply that different approaches to learning depend on individual learners. They argue that,
`Kolb does not develop a notion of how the environment might actively function for or
against the interest of the learner, or how it might be adapted to enable self-directed learning’
(Taylor & Burgess, 1995, p. 88).
As a profession where social context is considered crucial in relation to practice, social
workers clearly need to address the in¯ uence of environment on the ability of students to
learn. Jarvis (1995) argued that K olb’ s theory was over-simplistic in relation to describing the
complexity of the learning process. He stressed that learners are also experiencing their lives
within a socio-cultural context and that this cannot be excluded from any theoretical analysis
of learning. `While experiential theorists are right to emphas ise the individual, it must always
be the person-in-social-con text that is the subject of discussion’ (Jarvis, 1995, p. 79).
Such critiques are particularly pertinent in relation to social work education. Any serious
attempt to utilise adult learning theo ries in social work to encou rage professional develop-
ment needs to ensure that the perso n-in-social-context is maintained as a prime focus. The
utilisation of learning s tyles theories are, therefore, not suggested here as a replacement for
this but simply as offe ring the potential for some insight into how students learn in some
situations. Such insights cannot, by their nature, encompass all aspects of a student’ s learning
but, utilised effectively, they may form one part of the larger picture around how adult
learning can be facilitated.
Key themes in the literature
·Within the current educational and clinical literature there appears to be a general level of
agreement about the existence of individual styles of learning. Fox and Guild (1987)
acknowledge, however, that de spite this general level of agreemen t, researchers vary in the
way they examine and conceptualise style. For example, Kolb (1981, 1984) sees learnin g
style developing as a result of the interplay between heredity factors, prior learning
experiences and the cu rrent demands of the environment. Witkin et al. (1977 ) focus more
on the primacy of cognitive processes and identify cognitive style as a way of processing
information contained in both the inte rnal and external w orld. Coop and Sigal (1971) and
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Oen (1973) highlight the importance of an individu al’ s behaviour patterns when con-
fronted with problem solving as a way of conceptualising learning style. It is pertinent to
note here, however, that some learning theorists, for example, Boud (1998), have moved
away from the concept of style as a stable characteristic and draw upon the notion of
approaches to learning as a characteristic of the interaction between the individual and a
learning task.
·A number of key differences can be noted in the literature related to the interplay of
learning styles and personality. Some of these differences are inferred from the differences
in attention given to person ality theories. Some researchers draw explicitly upon knowledge
from personality theory to inform the ir work (Berengarten, 1957; Heath, 1978; Myers,
1976). Myers (1976), for example, argues that she applied Jung’ s (1933) work on
personality types when constructing the M yers± Briggs Type Indicator. Recent work here,
for example Garden (1991) and Bayne (1995), suggests that Myers did not strictly adhere
to the application of Jung’s work and undervalued her own development of these ideas in
her work.
·The interplay between cognitive and learning style traits is a particular area that varies in
the literature (Curry, 1990). Learning styles can be viewed as comprising one aspect of a
person’ s broad er cognitiv e style (Lachman et al ., 1979) or alternatively , cognitive style can
be classi® ed itself as a type of learning style (Claxton & Ralston, 1978). The questionnaire
devised by Honey and Mumford (1986) did n ot draw explicitly upon any personality
theories, nor did it directly address the relationship between cognitive styles and learning
·Various studies have sought to establish the validity of instrumentation used to measure
learning styles (C andy, 1991; Cawley et al., 1976; Delahaye & Smith, 1995; Field, 1989).
Curry’ s (1990) critique of the research on learning styles raised questions relating to both
the reliability and validity of measurements used in some of the learning styles literature.
Some of the shortcomings related to the use of Honey and Mumford’ s questionnaire have
been referred to earlier in this paper.
·No resolution appears to have been reached with regard to the effect of matching or
mismatching learning styles. There are suggestions that the mismatching of styles might be
useful for the learner in allowing the development of alternative learning strategies (Ship-
man & Shipman, 1985). The predominant theme of the literature, however, suggests the
usefulness of matching learning materials (Pask, 1976) and teaching styles to the students’
learning styles (Charkins et al., 1985; Dunn, 1988; Griggs, 1985; Vallerand, 1988).
·There is little research available currently on how learning styles can be incorporated into
social work practice teaching. Research that has been un dertaken in the ® eld of clinical
practice suggests the importance of identifying student’s learning styles (Berengarten,
1957; Fox & Guild, 1987; Kadushin, 1992; Papell, 1978). Two studies, Tsang (1993) in
Hong Kong and Kruzich et al. (1986) in the United States, did focus on social work
students’ learning styles. Both studies noted shifts in students’ learnin g styles in response
to the different expectations of their pract ice teachers and their subje ct teachers. Tsang
(1993) administered K olb’ s Learning Styles Inventory over a 2-year period to social work
students at four different points in their social work training. Signi® cant shifts in the
students’ learning styles were noted. The author explained these changes as resulting from
changes in expectations depending upon the requirements of the academic curriculum and
the ® eldwork placement. Kruzich et al. (1996) found that the social work faculty and the
® eldwork placements were associated with opposite learnin g styles. Tsang (1993, p. 73)
saw such `mismatch’ of styles as an area for social work educators to capitalise upon as it
offers the potential for students to experience `¼ more rounded learning in terms of the
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relative ease and ope nness for students to use all the different modes of learning’ . There
are other examples in the literature to suggest that the mismatching of styles might be
useful for the learner in enabling the development of ¯ exible learning strategies (Shipman
& Shipman, 1985). The predominant theme of the literature in this area, however, appears
to support the u sefulness of matching learning materials and teaching styles to the
student’s learning style (Charkins et al., 1985; Dunn, 1988; Griggs, 1985; Matthews, 1991;
Vallerand, 1988). This paper explore s how similarities and differences in learning and
teaching styles were perceived by one particula r group of social work practice teachers and
their students. The relevance of learning styles in the qu est for promotin g students’
learning is a key consideration of this analysis. Asking practice teachers and their students
to complete Honey and Mumford’ s `Learning Styles Questionnaire’ was used as a starting
point for this exploration .
The focus of inquiry
The main focus of investigation was on exploring in depth the perceptions of one particular
group of practice teac hers and students with regard to the usefulness of identifying learning
styles for the task of promoting students learning whilst undertaking practice placements.
Respondents were also questioned about how they experienced differen ces and similarities in
their teaching and learning styles.
The research process
The eight practice teachers involved in this study were all studying on an outer London
practice teachers’ programme, working towards the CCETSW Practice Teaching Award, and
they each had a social work student on placement with them. Six practice teachers were from
the statutory sector and two from the voluntary sector. They were a mixed group in terms of
ethnicity and age. Three respon dents were of African Caribbean descent, three were white
British, one was Chinese and one was Jewish. All eight were female. The original intention
was to interview three male practice teach ers but they were eventually unable to agree to
interview times as a result of their work commitments. Only one practic e teacher had
previous experience as a practice teacher. Overall, however, this pro® le was a representative
sample of this particular practice teachers’ programme , where candidates are predominantly
drawn from the statuto ry sector. The programme has historically attracted a larger proportion
of female applicants and this has been re¯ ected in the recruiting of more female than male
candidates. Care needs to be taken, however, in interpreting the ® ndings of the research on
this basis. Furthermore, in such a small-s cale study, it is clearly dif® cult to make any c lear
statements relating to t he impact of gend er and ethnicity on the ® ndings. On this basis it is
dif® cult to show how the person-in-social-context in¯ uenced the research process and
The process of the research involved:
·individual completion of Honey and Mumford’s (1986) question naire on learning styles;
·individual taped semi-structured interviews with practice teachers and their respective
·DipSW students on placement who were asked to complete Honey and Mumford’ s
questionnaire by their practice teachers.
The practice teachers were asked to complete Honey and Mumford’ s (1986) `Learning
Styles Questionnaire’ as part of a group exercise. Initially they completed the questionnaire
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alone to determine their own preferred learning s tyle. They were asked to identify their own
learning style in the large grou p and then to form into small groups cons isting of people with
the same identi® ed learning styles. They joined small groups of `re¯ ectors’ , `activists’ ,
`theorists’ or `pragmatists’ . In these groups they considered how they learnt best; what
teaching methods they preferred and from this information they devised a `learning code’ for
helping people with the ir identi® ed learning style to utilise learning opportunities available on
placement. The group of re¯ ectors, for example, highlighted the importanc e of observation
and shadowing in facilitating their learning as one component of their learning code. Each
small group then reported back their discussions to the main group and answered questions
relating to how they learnt best from others with different learning styles. The aim of this
exercise was to encou rage practice teachers to develop learning and teaching strategies in line
with their students’ way of learning, which might be different to their own.
As a result of this exercise all practice teachers completed the que stionnaire. The practice
teachers were then given a second copy of Honey and Mumford’ s (1986) questionnaire and
asked to give it to their students to complete. They were encouraged to utilise information
from the group training expe rience to promote their individual student’s learnin g and to
consider the relevance of their particular s tudent’ s learning style when identifying their own
teaching strategies on placement. Six students completed the questionnaire.
At a later stage in the students’ placement the eight practice teachers and their respective
students were interviewed. Each person was interviewed separately to provide oppo rtunities
for individual perceptions to be expressed within a con® dential interview. Data from these
interviews was collected via the u se of semi-s tructured interviews. Separate interview sc hed-
ules were used for practice teachers and students who had completed the questionnaire and
those where the student had not completed the question naire. The ® rst group was asked
questions about whether the information about respective learning styles had been useful to
them or not. The second group was asked questions relating to why they had not used the
questionnaire, whether in retrospect they considered this might have been useful and any
other ways they had sought to ® nd out how their student learnt best. Both groups of practice
teachers and students were asked questions relating to the ways in which their student’s
learning style was similar and different to their own and how this in¯ uenced their teaching
style. All respondents were encouraged to be discursive in their responses.
The research ® ndings
Four key themes emerged from an analysis of the interview data collected. These were:
·assessment of the usefulness of identifying learning styles via the questionnaire;
·analysis of the impact of learning styles on teaching styles;
·perceptions on the effect of similarities and differences in learning styles; and
·exploration of the transition from practitioner to practice teacher.
Data presentation here includes direct quotes from the respondents involved in order to
retain the essentially qualitative nature of this research, and to understand the meaning
individuals attach to their speci® c situations and actions.
Theme 1: assessment of the usefulness of identifying learning styles via the questionnaire
All respond ents identi® ed the idea of trying to ® nd out about learnin g styles as a useful one.
Practice teachers frequently made explicit connections to its usefulness for teaching and
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facilitating another perso n’ s learning. One representative example of such comments here
I think it enables you to pitch things in a way that helps people learn ¼ To make
sure that you are not doing things that just suit yourself. If you are passing on
information it’ s got to be in the way the other person can understand (Practice
The studen ts interviewed also spoke positively about the potential usefulness of identifying
learning styles as a way of aiding their learn ing on placement. One representative comment
here was
It needs to inform ¼ almost permeate the whole process ¼ So there should be some
sort of an exercise, so me time set aside about how people learn ¼ how people
operate, how people teach ¼ (Student).
Some practice teachers highlighted how they had consciously sought to utilise information
about their students’ learning style gained, from completion of the questionnaire, in their
teaching. Some incorporated the information in the foundation of the practice teaching
We spent a lot of time talking about it in supervision ¼ We incorporated it into how
we worked together. It is like a seed that you plant and as you water it, it grows and
then you know what to do and that you need to look after it (Practice Teach er).
We used it in supervision a lot ¼ It raised my awareness of how he learnt best and
helped him to realise the style he used. It ran through the placement as a theme
(Practice Teacher).
Others used the information on learning styles when they found their teaching strategies
were not promoting their students’ learning. One interesting example here is:
I used it because I was at a loss, I couldn’ t understand why she didn’ t understand
and why I couldn’ t get a message across ¼ The only thing I had to work it out with
was the questionnaire ¼ It was a last ditch attempt really. ¼ it took a lot of pressure
off. `Look, it’ s nobod y’ s fault, we’ re just c oming from different pe rspectives’
(Practice Teacher).
On the whole, however, students appeared to be disappointed that their practice teachers
had not sought to use the information about their learning styles in a more pro-active way.
The students identi® ed information about their learning styles as an important part of
recognising the practice placement as a learning arena. One comment here clearly signi® es
the sense of lost opportu nity expressed by most of the students interviewed:
I was very interes ted in the idea ¼ this might be a way of moving things for-
ward ¼ but we didn’ t go very deep into it ¼ Just did the questionnaire, it didn’t go
anywhere ¼ not used as a technique for moving things on. ¼ You’ve got to have a
different perspective on why you’ re there ¼ and that was a bit lacking ¼ This
(pointing to the questionnaire) would have really helped to have made it more of the
unique experience that it is (Student).
Where students felt their practice teacher had used information about their learning styles
their comments were positive:
If we hadn’ t done the questionnaire and talked about learning styles, it probably
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wouldn’ t have come up. ¼ The question naire showed we were quite different. If we
didn’ t have this awareness there could have been friction (Student).
The interviews with the practice teachers highlighted differences in how information abo ut
learning styles had been used. Alongside the earlier comments about how such information
had been incorporated throughout the placement, other practice teachers acknowledged that
they found the information about learning style interesting but had not utilise d the infor-
mation to inform their student’ s learning process. Comments from the students placed with
these practice te achers highlighted the sense of a missed opportunity to enhance their
learning on placement. This points perhaps to the need for practice teachers to be given more
explicit information about the use of the questionnaire and how its results can inform the
content and process of practice teaching. It also links with issues raised in Theme 4,
connected to the transition from practitioner to practice teacher.
Theme 2: analysis of the impact of lear ning styles on teaching styles
All the practice teachers made a connection between how their own learning styles in¯ uenced
the way they taught their students. The main theme identi® ed was that practice teachers
often taught their students in the way they learnt best rather than focusing on promoting their
student’s mode of learning. Some apposite comments here we re:
What I was doing was trying to teach ¼ but what I did was probably tried to teach
the way I learn (Practice Teacher).
I apply my own learning style into my teaching style to my student as well ¼ My
learning style has a great in¯ uence on my teaching style (Practice Teacher).
One example here was a practice teacher with a predominantly re¯ ective learning style,
who identi® ed that she had arranged the teaching programm e for her student around how she
learnt best. Opportunities for observation were key to the induction process and supervision
was a re¯ ective space where the student was encouraged to consider alternative perspectives
to inform any action.
Most students found it dif® cult to articulate how their practice teachers’ learning style had
in¯ uenced their teaching strategies. Some stud ents did give examples of where they were
aware that their practice teacher had actively changed their teaching style to accommodate
their student’s learning style:
I like didactic teaching ¼ she preferred to do a brainstorm and to dredge things up
from herself, she did actually appreciate that Ididnt operate that way (Student).
One student, however, was clear that their practice teacher had not sought to accommo-
date their learning style:
She taught the way she learned ¼ which is ® ne if you’ re teaching yourself! I never
felt she was trying to change her teaching to meet my learning (Student).
The dif® culty some of the students had in articulating their experien ce suggests that
students too could bene® t from some explicit training on learning and teaching before
commencing their practice placements. Although the practice teachers interviewed experi-
enced a connection between their learning and te aching styles, it is pertinent to no te that such
a connection is not clearly evidenced in the literature available in this area.
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Theme 3: perceptions on the effect of similarities and differences in learning styles
Theme 2 identi® es some of the ways similarities and differences in learning styles were
perceived by practic e teachers and students. There were other perceptions, however, which
are useful to highlight separately.
Working with similarit ies. Where the learning styles of practice teachers and students were
similar, this was generally perceived as positive. Teaching someone who learns in the way that
you do was experienced as a bonus for most practice teachers:
Our similarities made the placement a very good experience ¼ helps the practice
teacher ¼ student too. I said to her `The way you learn is acceptable’¼ I think she
was saying to me `How you teach is acceptable’ ¼ If it was different it would be
dif® cult ¼ (Practice Teacher).
None of the practice teachers referred to similaritie s in style as having any disadvantages.
Overall, the students agreed with this. One student suggested, however, that similarity could
have limitations:
It worked well because we understood each other ¼ Maybe working with someone
who did things differen tly would have been good for me though ¼ We are both
re¯ ectors and spent lots of time going round the houses ¼ Maybe someone like an
activist would have pushed me forward more, helped me to do things in a different
way, ¼ not just more of the same (Student).
This student’s comments are helpful in highlighting the potential downside of matching
learning styles and indicate that similarity may sti¯ e growth at times. As noted earlier, the
question about `matching and `mismatching’ of styles is important to establish in relation to
practice teaching. Social workers today cannot simply be re¯ ective, for example, as the
realities of modern practice dictate the need to develop all four approaches to learning.
Working with differences. In themselves, differences in learning style between the practice
teacher and the student did not, overall, appear to adversely affect the practice placement.
Some practice teachers and stud ents spoke about how they had worked pos itively with the
differences betw een them:
Differences were dif® c ult at the beginning ¼ I had to see his way of thinking and
learning. I had to learn how he learnt. There’ s no right or wrong style ¼ As long as
the outcome is okay ¼ the style is okay ¼ I found working with a student with
different style quite stimulating ¼ I learn from different ways of doing things
(Practice Teacher).
It never caused any real problem s ¼ We’ d gone through the questionnaire ¼ were
aware that we were different ¼ then we were able to work with it ¼ put a positive
connotation on it ¼ B ecause we were aware of it we could complement each o ther.
We made up for each other’ s de® ciencies (Student).
Where the experience of working with different learning styles was positive, comments
were often made on the quality of the relationship between the practice te acher and student:
There was a lot of mutual respect and mu tual recognition o f skills (Stude nt).
Our relationship was very convivial ¼ I don’t think this was about learning styles
though, I think this is more about personalities (Student).
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Where differences in learning style were perceived as mo re problematic, the discussion of
this often involved broader referen ces to the importance of the relationship between the
student and the practice teacher. The link between learning styles and the wider concept of
personality types was also referred to. This is particularly interest ing, as the literature in this
area debates the connections between learning styles and personality types as referred to
She wasn’ t able to talk about how she was experiencing things ¼ Very different as
a personality ¼ if that impacts on her learning ¼ I guess it does doesn’t it? (Pract ice
By the time we got round to the questionnaire our relationship was so poor. You
need to have a reasonably good relationship ¼ I don’ t know how to separate it, how
it might have affected her learning (Practice Teacher).
But it would always end up with both of us trying to prove our point ¼ I’m not sure
if that’ s about learning styles or our relationship ¼ Our relationship took over the
whole placement ¼ (Student).
Such comments also highlight, however, that the impact of different learning styles may be
of limited relevance when assessing the overall learning experience in the se situations.
Theme 4: highlighting the transition from practitioner to practice teacher
Several respondents referred to the fact that they had no previous experience of teaching, as
they were trained as s ocial workers rather than teachers:
I was quite scared to begin with ¼ What do I know about te aching? ¼ I needed to
know how the student learned ¼ How do you teach someb ody? I don’ t know ¼ The
course was excellent ¼ giving some ideas ¼ but I wasn’ t sure how to teach someone
else (Practice Teacher).
It’ s a big responsibility teaching somebody ¼ such a new role ¼ You see I’m not a
teacher and we were being asked to be teachers ¼ (Practice Teacher).
Overall students did not raise this as an area of concern. One student, however, com-
¼ they are at the end of the day s ocial workers with a social work training. I think
you need a training in ed ucation to be able to do this (Student).
Comments here suggest that practice teachers are aware of their limitations as teachers and
one implication of this is that practice teacher programmes should address such anxieties
explicitly and focus on how practice teachers can acquire appropriate skills to facilitate
Discussion of ® ndings
An assessment of the usefulness of highl ighting learning and teaching styles for practice teaching
Feedback from the grou p exercise with practice teachers was very positive about the potential
usefulness of highlighting teaching and learning styles for practice teaching. Furthermore, all
practice teachers interviewed identi® ed the idea of trying to ® nd out about learning styles as
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helpful. The links between learning style and teaching style were also highlighted as import-
ant for practice teachers to be aware of. All practice teachers responded that they had thought
about how their learning style in¯ uenced their teaching style. Some explicit connections were
made by practice teachers about how their learning and teaching style impacted on their
student’s ability to learn. Furthermore, comments were also made about how the stud ent’ s
learning style had affected the practice teacher’ s ability to teach at times. Overall, this
particular group of practice teachers found the highlighting of learning and teaching styles
useful for their role as practice teachers.
An interesting issue here, however, is that althou gh all practice te achers said that they
considered the ideas underlying learning styles to be useful, they did not all necessarily use
these ideas to inform their teaching practice. All the students interviewed, with one exception,
believed that their practice teacher had not used the information they had about their learning
styles to assist their learning in any signi® cant way. The students spoke very positively overall
about the potential usefulness of understanding the impact of learning and teaching styles on
their placement experiences. The students appeared to have a sen se of `lost opportunity’ and
several questioned whether their practic e teacher knew what to do with the information the
students had given them about their learning styles. As noted previously, this suggests that
practice teacher programmes should focus more clearly on how to use the results of the
questionnaire in developing their teaching strategies.
The practice teachers did see the ideas as useful but lack of application of these ideas
questions whether these ideas were useful enough for them to use in their teaching practice. A
related factor raised by the data is also whether some of the practice teachers found the ideas
useful at a general level of abst raction but did not know how to work with them in the ir
practice teacher± student relationships. The lack of knowledge about teaching as opposed to
social work practice was raised on seve ral occasions and may account for the ambivalence
about whether these ideas were useful enough.
The practice teachers varied in h ow they used the questionnaire with their stud ents.
Overall, where the learning styles of the practice teachers and their individual students were
similar, the questionnaire was used initially and then moved away from. Where learning styles
were not identi® ed as key areas of concern by the practice teacher they were not used to any
signi® cant extent with their studen ts.
The question naire was incorporated more fully into the practice teaching process, however,
where there was a clear difference in the learning styles of the practice teacher and their
student. On these occasions it was used by practice teachers as a tool for understanding their
student and as a way of highlighting how the practice teacher could seek to accommodate
their student’s learning style. The practice teachers in this category spoke positively about
how using the questionnaire had enabled them to see their student’s perspectives and to
appreciate differences in how they worked. The studen ts involved also spoke positively about
its usefuln ess, as a way of helping them to accommodate differences in learning and teaching
In two instances, however, differences in learning styles were identi® ed but the practice
teachers did not use the questionnaire as a teaching tool. Both these practice teachers
commented that using the questionnaire as a way of unders tanding their studen ts’ way of
learning could have been potentially helpful for their practice teaching. Neither of the
practice teachers had asked the students to complete the questionnaire. One said she had
forgotten about it and the other said their student had refused to complete the questionnaire
as she did not want to be categorised in this way. Such a comment highlights a potential
problem in the use of such questionnaires. Practice teachers were encouraged to use the
information as one indication of how they could seek to facilitate their student’s learning. The
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purpose of the exercise was not to `label’ practice teachers or students as belonging
exclusively to ® xed categorisations.
Overall, it appears that the usefuln ess of the Honey and Mumford questionnaire was related
to the needs of the particular practice teache student dyad. Where learning styles did not
create barriers to learning, its completion appears to have been experienced as an interesting
exercise but one that was tangential to the overall practice teaching relationship. Where learning
styles between the practice teach er and their student were differe nt, however, the q uestionnaire
does appear to have been utilised as a useful teaching tool. The ® ndings of this research appear
to support research studies in the literature that highlight the usefulness of employing such
learning styles instrumentation (Keefe & Ferrell, 1990; Sims et al., 1991, 1989).
How similarities and differences in learning and teaching styles were perceived by pr actice teachers
and their students
This study took place in the conte xt of random matching and mismatching between the
learning styles of practice te achers and their students in the sample group. Perceptions of
similarity and difference in the learning styles varied across the group. From analysis of the
data it appears that overall, similarities in learning styles were explicitly perceived as having
a positive impact on the placement. The existence of such similarities appeared to act as a
background feature to the placement. The similarities were acknowledged and their positive
effects noted. The issue of learning styles seems to have moved from the agenda at this point.
It is interesting to note that the potent ial downside of matching styles did not signi® cantly
emerge as an expressed issue. The potential danger of the teaching relationship being too
`cosy’ or even collusive was not signi® cantly highlighted. The work of Shipman and Shipman
(1985) and Tsang’ s (1993) st udy suggest that the mismatc hing of styles can result in new
learning strategies being developed by students. This suggests that practice teachers should
be encouraged to explore the potential disadvant ages as well as the potential bene® ts that
could result from the matching of practice teacher± student learning styles.
Where the learning styles of the practice teacher and their student were different percep-
tions regarding the impact of such differences appeared to be a key concern during the
placement. The fact that differenc es were noted did not necessarily lead to negative percep-
tions or resu lt in problems on the placement. An important fac tor appeared to be the
willingness of both parties to explicitly acknowledge the existence of such differences and to
respect alternative patterns of learning.
Where differences did exist, the practice teachers and some studen ts spoke about initial
dif® culties in trying to understand each other’ s learning perspective. The willingness to allow
time for this to happen and to demons trate the ability to accommodate another’ s perspective
was important. Co- operation of both practice teacher and student appeared to be necessary
in this process. Where the working relationship between the practice teacher and their
student was positive then such co-operation and accommodation appears to have been
Where the relationship was poor it appeared to be particu larly dif® cult to accommodate
differences in styles and to work with them in a positive way. Incorporating the concept of
person-in-social-context in these examples may reveal the operation of other more pertinent
in¯ uences on the learning environmen t. In¯ uences around differences in personality, how
practice teachers create environments for learning, how students respond to criticism, how
the power dynamic in the practice teacher± student dyad is experien ced, the impact of
ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality etc. are all factors which could conceivably in¯ uence the
broader learning milieu.
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Overall, the results of this study do appear to lend support to research studies that suggest
the usefu lness of matching students and teachers’ learning and teaching styles (Lemberger &
Marshack, 1991; M atthews, 1991; Palmer, 1987; Schmeck, 1983; Vallerand, 1988; Webb,
1988). The study does not, however, identify mismatching of styles as a long-term problem
for either stude nts or practice teachers. Data from this study also supports arguments from
research studies that suggest differences in learning styles can be accommodated appropri-
ately and worked with productively (Ramsden, 1985; Shipman & Shipman, 1985). The
quality of the overall relationship be tween the practice teacher and their student appears to
have been signi® cant in in¯ uencing whether this happened or not. The impact of learning
styles and the perception of similarities and differences in styles appeared to be connected to
a broader picture affecting how two individuals work together. This connects with debates in
the literature related to the relationship between learning styles and personality types.
Awareness of differences in learning styles at the start of a placement may have been
in¯ uential in helping to form positive working relationships where such differences could be
openly acknowledged and validated. As noted throughout this study, how ever, knowledge
around learning styles offers some po tential to enhance learning but is clearly not the total
picture around how a student is facilitated to learn or not.
Implications for future practice
Suggestions for future practice indicated by this study are given below:
·The use of the Honey and Mu mford `Learning Styles Questionnaire’ on practice teachers’
programmes sho uld be continued. Care needs to be taken here, however, to highlight the
purpose of such an exercise and to avoid any rigid stereotyping of respondents. This is a
simple teaching tool that can give pointers for the students’ learning but would clearly be
a crude tool to base rigid categorisations on. Lo cating the use of this questionnaire clearly
within the broader context of adult learning theory appears to be helpful for new practice
·The relevance of focusing on the question naire as a teaching tool and highlightin g how
practice teache rs can actively use in formation about their student’s learning style in their
teaching practice is also indicated. Exploring concrete links between learning and teaching
styles could be productive here and could be promoted on practice teaching programmes.
·The use of the questionnaire as a teaching tool could be particularly appropriate where the
practice teacher and the student have different learning styles. It may offer a way of
explicitly ackn owledging and working productively with these differences. The que stion-
naire can also be used to allow practice teachers and students to identify the effects of
similarity in the ir styles and to work effectively with these.
·Awareness of learning styles could be an empowering experience for students on place-
ment. This could occur by helping practice teachers to increase aw areness of their student’s
ways of learning that may lead to a positive and accommodating working relationship. It
also appears importan t for students to have this self-awareness about how they learn best
and what they can do to maximise their learning experiences on placement. Students may
bene® t from exploring their learning styles before the placement commences, to enable
them to fully participate in promoting their learning and to seek out appropriate learning
opportunities. This preparatio n could be incorporated into Diplom a in Social Work
·The transition from social work practitioner to practice teacher appears to be a complex
process, where the practice teacher is asked to demonstrate knowledge and skills in
teaching as well as social work practice. It is indicated that practice teachers could utilise
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practical teaching strategies from the ® eld of adult learning to focus on promoting student
learning on placement.
·The realities of modern social work practice require the student’ s learning to be viewed
within the con text of the broader learning milieu. Learning style questionnaires have the
potential to enhance student learning but are not the total picture. Attention needs to be
paid to the student as a person-in-social-context and the totality of in¯ uences on their
learning experience should be acknowledged.
This paper has explored one particular way in which practice te achers could utilise infor-
mation about their own and their students’ learnin g style as a way of promoting student
learning on practice placements. The ® ndings of the small-scale research outlined here do
suggest that exploration of learning styles could be of value in this context, particularly where
the practice teacher and their student have different ways of learning. The rese arch discussed
here is clearly small scale and its sample size and constitution suggest limitations in terms of
generalising its ® ndings. To the author’ s knowled ge, however, this is the ® rst research study
in the United Kingd om to explore the impact of learning styles in a social work context and
relate this speci® cally to current developments in the arena of continuing professional
development and practice teaching.
The arguments raised here have broader implications, however, for if social workers are to
engage in continuing professional development as lifelong learners within a demanding and
changing profession, the ability to learn is a crucial prerequisite. Awareness about how we
learn best can usefully underpin this process and may offer one tangible way in w hich social
work can move toward achieving the goal of lifelong learning for practitioners. This would
clearly be in line with the aspirations outlined by CCETSW (1992, 1993), Dearing (1997)
and the White Paper, Modernising Social Services (Department of He alth, 1998). Utilising
material from the ® eld of adult learning may provide helpful signposts for future directions
in social work education and have particular relevance for the crucial area of practice
teaching. Additionally, drawing upon such research may also allow practice teachers to
demonstrate their ability to analyse and evaluate research in respect of practice teaching,
which is now an essential element of the Practice Te aching Award (CCETSW, 1998).
The social work profession cannot draw uncritically on material from the ® eld of adult
learning, however, and a questioning attitude to its relevance nee ds to be maintained. Taylor
(1997, p. 11) points out that, `The adult learning literature is noteworthy for its tendency to
omit discussion of the social, political, and econ omic context. This gives it a limited
applicability t o professional education’ .
Such warnings should not go unhee ded. If practice teachers are encouraged to utilise theories
from the ® eld of adult learning this needs to be p romoted in a thoughtful and considered way.
This paper suggests that information about learning styles may have relevance in the social
work practice teaching arena. It is not suggested as a panacea to cure all educational ills,
however; its claims are of a more limited nature. The needs of professional social work
education dictate that the student is viewed as a person-in-social-context. To be ® t for purpose
in this context, information about learning styles needs to be viewed as one, potentially
signi® cant, part of the total edu cational experience for both students and practice teachers.
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... First, LS might be relevant for the training and supervision of student therapists (Sugarman, 1985), which is integral to our field (Orlinsky & Rønnestad, 2005;Sharkin & Plageman, 2003). LS might guide the type of instruction student trainees prefer and might inform the professor's lesson plans in the didactic learning in graduate classrooms, it also has direct practical application in the clinical practice teaching arena, as students attend numerous clinical practice, placements, internships and externships (Cartney, 2000). Kolb's premise of the four stages in the learning cycle, along with the need for counseling students to learn both theory and its practical application, suggests that students might have to make use of both abstract and concrete learning experiences, and have to be adaptable in different contexts. ...
... Kolb's premise of the four stages in the learning cycle, along with the need for counseling students to learn both theory and its practical application, suggests that students might have to make use of both abstract and concrete learning experiences, and have to be adaptable in different contexts. Moreover, given the number of different supervisors students work with throughout their training, the implication of similar or different and matching or mismatching of LS in the supervisory relationship is thus important to address (Cartney, 2000). Within practice teacher's training, the importance of understanding LS in the supervisor-student relationship has been noted, so that the supervisor might try to match the student's LS (Shuk-fong Ng-wan, 1996). ...
... Eight empirical studies were included for review. Subsequently, the first and second authors independently conducted the forward and backward citation and reference tracking of these eight identified studies and identified the same additional nine studies that met inclusion criteria (Cartney, 2000;Keri, 2003;Kruzich et al., 1986;Marshall, 1985;Miller, Kovacs, Wright, Corcoran, & Rosenblum, 2005;Smith & Martinson, 1971;Torbit, 1981;Tsang, 1993;Van Soest & Kruzich, 1994). All three authors reached consensus on the identified 17 studies that met inclusion criteria, and that were reviewed for this scoping review. ...
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The concept of learning styles is popular among educators and the general public; however, many have highlighted the lack of empirical evidence supporting its relevance. We conducted a systematic literature search to identify the scope of empirical studies on learning styles applied to counseling and counseling education. Only 17 empirical studies were identified, indicating a relative lack of research. Four studies reported on the application of learning styles in treatments (of either the client, the counselor, and/or the treatment), suggesting that matching learning styles of intervention and client might be beneficial. Thirteen studies reported on learning styles in training settings (of students and their supervisor/teacher or field instructor). Although students' learning styles appeared flexible, social work students frequently reported an active experi-ential learning style and counseling students as well as more experienced clinicians appeared more abstract and reflective. The majority of studies were cross-sectional survey studies and many reported minimal psychometric data on the used self-report measures of learning styles, which appeared to conflate the concepts of learning preference and learning ability. At present, there is no adequate evidence to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into counseling practice or training. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Therefore, the 'respect for individual differences and knowledge of learning-style idiosyncrasies will undoubtedly improve learning effectiveness if these ideas are incorporated into the instructional design' ( James & Gardner 1995: 30). When creating online environments for mature learners, the links between the learning style of mature learners and the teaching style of lecturers have been identified as important contributors for lecturers to be aware of in preparing their teaching material (Cartney 2000). Furthermore, we encourage the lecturers to attend training sessions related to the design of an online environment so that they become familiar and 'feel at ease and competent with the use of technology [in order to] contribute to the perception that technology is valuable and practical [for their discipline]' (Stoltenkamp 2013: 52). ...
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Amidst the spread of COVID-19, higher education institutions (HEIs) in South Africa were compelled to offer academic programmes through online learning by utilising digital information and communication technologies (ICT) that were specifically designed to deliver content to mature students who used technology in their learning. This chapter focuses on the effective design of blended-learning environments and building the capacity of lecturers to design and facilitate interactive, blended e-pedagogy for mature students. We use the adapted ADDIE model to illustrate how lecturers can design and facilitate blended e-pedagogy for mature students. In fact, the COVID-19 crisis catapulted blended e-pedagogy to centre stage in higher education and created the need for: e-pedagogy training; the refining of e-tools; collaborative e-tools; and online assessment e-tools.
... Perhaps surprisingly, it has been argued (Trotter and Hewitt, 2001) that direct social work practice is not necessary to be a good practice instructor and that it may be more important to examine teaching effectiveness. Cartney (2000) further expands this enquiry by poignantly asking, do 'skilled social work practitioners automatically develop into skilled practice teachers? Might it be the case that different skills and knowledge are required for such a transition to take place'? ...
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Social work students must advance their social work skills gaining practice competencies. And, whilst practice learning takes place in field education placements, social work students often also enrol in a dedicated unit/ course whereby the teaching of practice skills is facilitated in class. A practice skills class is another learning space to imbue practice wisdom. Adjunct teaching staff are often employed on short-term university contracts to teach social work students in the area of practice skills. Whilst these practitioners can bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the under-graduate classroom, it cannot be assumed that adjunct teaching staff have formal training in curricula development nor pedagogical delivery. The goal of this article is to identify the critical elements of teaching practice skills and to examine the ways in which teaching content is delivered. This article presents the ‘teaching the teacher’ experience of three social work educators at an Australian university. A collaborative autoethnography identified three themes from the inductive analysis: (i) teaching best practices, (ii) teaching role and (iii) teaching practice skills. Finally, implications for social work are discussed and recommendations shared.
... The research set out to explore whether knowledge of learning styles was indeed of any practical relevance in supporting practice teachers in their task of promoting and assessing student competence. The overall process and fi ndings of this research have been explored in greater detail elsewhere (Cartney, 2000). For the purposes of this paper, however, the key area of focus is whether practice teachers were able to utilise this academic knowledge in a practical way to promote practice learning and to explore ways such knowledge might be used more effectively. ...
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This paper focuses on the Department of Health (2002) statement that academic knowledge should be used to support practice learning. Debates around linking theory and practice and knowledge as product and process are discussed. The particular emphasis is on critically analysing whether academic knowledge about learning styles - a form of ‘process knowledge’ – can be effectively utilised and therefore relevant to supporting the process of practice teaching. A small-scale qualitative research study with practice teachers and students is presented as a way of exploring this.The findings of this research suggest that information about learning styles can be of practical relevance to practice teachers in promoting effective student learning. The key finding here is that its relevance is determined primarily by how such knowledge is utilised in practice. It is crucial whether practice teachers perceive information about their student’s learning styles as product knowledge (something they possess but do not necessarily employ) or process knowledge (something which usefully describes part of the process they are engaged in).
... In our second phase, the content for both in-person and online workshops was developed which incorporated key principles of PBL. Considering the importance of theoretical approaches when delivering knowledge (Aliakbari et al., 2015;Cartney, 2000;Hartzell, 2007;Mann et al., 2009;Pinney et al., 2007;Pololi et al., 2001), it was critical to apply a learning and teaching approach to guide the development of DLW workshops. The PBL approach allowed us to develop a learner-centered educational environment by encouraging learners to actively participate in the learning process in both face to face and online platforms. ...
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The Do-Live-Well (DLW) framework is a health promotion approach developed by Canadian occupational therapists (OTs). As the DLW framework is relatively new, it has not been widely adopted by OTs. In order to facilitate OTs to incorporate the DLW concepts in their practice, there should be more learning opportunities, and online and in-person workshops have been chosen to be a specific interest of this study. The purpose of this project was to develop theory- and evidence-based in-person and online educational workshops for OTs as a pre-implementation study to increase the knowledge of the DLW framework among OTs. In order to develop workshops, we incorporated three different phases. First, we interviewed four OTs who have been applying the DLW concepts in practice to understand their use of the framework and training needs. It was identified that OTs experienced difficulty applying the DLW concepts in practice and wanted opportunities to learn more about the DLW framework. Next, problem-based learning (PBL) guided the workshop development, and the same eight key PBL principles were incorporated in both the in-person and online workshops. Finally, four different experts completed usability testing of the online workshop website to improve its learning environment. The online workshop website was improved based on the feedback from the usability testers. The next step of this research will be to compare effectiveness of in-person and online platforms for workshop delivery. The detailed development process described in this project may assist occupational therapy educators in developing theory- and evidence-based educational delivery methods.
... Opportunities unfolded for a wider range of placement options in competitive environments that included simulated learning (Hay, 2018;Phillips et al., 2018). This health emergency has made clear that flexibility and alternative approaches to field education can be achieved without compromising learning, ethics, practice principles and the values that underpin field education (Cartney, 2000;Conner et al., 2018;Ioakimidis and Sookraj, 2021). Opportunities lay in innovative approaches and also in addressing barriers at all levels of practice. ...
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This descriptive article reports immediate responses to COVID-19 by social work field education faculty in four universities in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Moving swiftly to online innovations, tele-supervision, teaching remote practice methods, and establishing alternative placements allowed students to meet required competencies while supporting students during the immediate crisis. Collaboration between field education faculty teams, professional bodies and agencies and clear communication with students and supervisors enabled all stakeholders to be open to flexible placement options. To conclude, COVID-19 brought opportunities to reflect on responses and explore new possibilities for field education in a post-COVID-19 world.
... Kolb se leerstylvoorkeurmodel kan in maatskaplike werk van toepassing gemaak word (Wolfsfeld & Haj-Yahia, 2010;Cartney, 2000;Van Soest & Kruzich, 1994). Ing (1990) beveel die gebruik van Kolb se leerstylvoorkeurmodel sterk aan in maatskaplike werk, aangesien dit veral supervisie met beginner maatskaplike werkers tot 'n sekere mate rig. ...
... The above recommendation may have been intended to create more effective educational systems, but without prioritising the learning styles of learners, its potential for success is likely to have been limited. Empirical findings from a study conducted by Pat Cartney (2000) in the United Kingdom showed that students considered their teachers to be ineffective when their teaching styles were asymmetrical to the students' learning styles. In a quantitative study carried out in Australia, Bill Tucker (2009) established a significant relationship between the learning styles of students and year of learning, as well as other variables. ...
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In today’s complex and knowledge-driven world, the quest to pursue and acquire information and skills to enable one to be useful in society is not limited to young learners; many older adults also actively seek to acquire new knowledge and skills. The study presented in this article aims to establish the characteristics and dominant learning styles of adults enrolled in a diploma programme at an institution of higher education in Ghana. In a qualitative case study approach using a homogenous sampling technique, 21 students (aged 27–54, 10 female, 11 male) were asked to fill in a learning styles questionnaire and to participate in focus group interviews. Based on these participants’ responses, the study found three learning styles to be dominant: pragmatist, reflector and theorist. An interesting finding was the absence of a fourth type among participants, the activist learning style. Since it is clear that not all adult learners engage well with the typical theoretical and conceptual content that is taught in higher education institutions, understanding these four adult learning styles should inform higher education policies in order to make learning equally enjoyable and maximise effective learning for all four types of adult learners. Other significant findings of this study open up avenues for further research on how an understanding of learning styles can be used to enhance learning by adults.
... Having reviewed the potential impacts of personal experience and professional training, we now focus on practice environment, in which social workers are located (Bogo, 2010;Cartney, 2000;Chisala, 2015). Three sources of influence are discussed below. ...
This entry provides conceptual and practical justifications for including chronological age in psychiatric diagnosis and mental health assessment. Considerations in the clinical assessment of adolescents and the types of clinical assessment that are available for adolescents are discussed, together with the assessment tools for diagnosing common mental disorders in adolescence, the role and relevance of developmental psychopathology, and developmental considerations in psychiatric diagnosis. The entry also outlines positive mental health assessment in adolescents.
... Having reviewed the potential impacts of personal experience and professional training, we now focus on practice environment, in which social workers are located (Bogo, 2010;Cartney, 2000;Chisala, 2015). Three sources of influence are discussed below. ...
Given the vital basis of the professional judgments made by social workers, this article proposes a framework with which to study the complex mechanisms involved in their judgments that considers three Ps: personal experience, professional training, and practice environment. Using a qualitative case study analysis, the authors apply the framework to examine the experiences of 20 Chinese social workers based in Hong Kong. Three cases have been selected to illustrate three trajectories as revealed from the 20 cases. Consistent with the notion of reflective practice, the analysis enhances the understanding of the forces behind the judgments that social workers make.