Building Professional Competence

Society needs ethical and effective social work professionals to provide quality social work services. Social work educators have the responsibility to prepare competent graduates for professional practice at all levels of intervention – clinical, community, organization, and policy – and ensure they have achieved a performance level necessary for beginning practice. Competence is conceptualized in a holistic manner and involves the integration of knowledge, values, and skills; it is evident in the performance of complex practice behaviors emanating from critical thinking and intentional use of self in practice. Knowledge for practice is continuously evolving and changing and lifelong learning is necessary to ensure continuing competency. Continuing competence can be supported through clinical supervision, and formal and informal continuing education.

 

The aim of the Professional Competence Knowledge Hub is to improve social work practice through excellence in education and professional development.  This website provides information from research studies conducted on 1) university-based courses and field education for social work practice and 2) clinical supervision of social work and related human service professionals. Specifically the website includes information from studies on:

  • field education practices to prepare social work students for competent practice
  • innovative methods and tools for educational outcomes assessment of student competence in clinical, community, organization, and policy practice
  • supervision of social work and interdisciplinary professionals in mental health and child welfare

 

Projects

DEVELOPING A FAMILY THERAPY OSCE: ASSESSING AND ARTICULATING FAMILY THERAPY CLINICAL CORE COMPETENCIES IN CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH ACROSS THREE DISCIPLINES.

This project will articulate and assess core competencies in family therapy needed for clinical practice in children’s mental health within the disciplines of social work, psychiatry and psychology given the three disciplines’ provision of family therapy treatment.  The aim of this study is to conceptualize competence in family therapy, identify a set of core competencies and those expected at varying levels of beginner (students) and expert (staff).  Such a framework will inform training programs and assessment of mental health practitioners’ competence in family therapy.

 

THE RELATIVE INFLUENCE OF TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE ON SOCIAL WORKERS’ PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT.

This study builds on our previous research on professional competence and judgment and extends the work to social work practice with suicidal clients. The aim is to articulate a more comprehensive theoretical model for understanding professional judgment and decision-making of social workers. We also intend to identify the relative impact of a range of factors that influence social workers in conducting risk appraisal of suicide, including training. Standardized actors/ clients will be used extending our previous work in simulation.

 

EVALUATING SOCIAL WORK STUDENTS’ PRACTICE COMPETENCE: INTEGRATING PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT AND REFLECTIVE PRACTICE. PHASE 4: EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF OSCE ON FIELD EDUCATION

This project developed and tested a new approach to evaluation of students’ practice through adapting the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) methodology used in health science professions to social work. Following “proof of concept” studies a one station OSCE was incorporated as the final assignment in the Social Work Practice Laboratory Course in the first year, first term of the MSW Program. This innovation was studied to examine components of student competence and the relationship of competence demonstrated in the OSCE and in the field practicum.

In phase 4 the impact of the OSCE on student learning and field instructor teaching in the field will be explored.

 

MAINTAINING A WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH PATIENTS WHEN REPORTING SUSPECTED CHILD MALTREATMENT: USING SIMULATION TO TRAIN HEALTH PROFESSIONALS.

Health professionals are in a unique position to support health and well-being of Canadian families and yet they are also frequently the first to identify suspected child maltreatment, which it is their duty to report. When faced with the decision to report, these professionals also want to continue to maintain a relationship with the family, to provide ongoing general health care and psycho-social support. An educational approach using simulation will be developed and evaluated to provide health professionals with competence in maintaining professional relationships in the face of mandatory reporting of suspected child maltreatment.The educational approach emanates from our research on strategies used to maintain relationships when reporting (Tufford), and from our research on using simulation to teach and assess holistic competence in providing psycho-social interventions.

 

 

Fact Sheets

Child Welfare
Stress, Trauma and Support in Child Welfare Practice
Supervision in Child Welfare: Integrating Administrative and Clinical Components

Field Education
Interorganizational Relationships Between Schools of Social Work and Field Agencies 
Understanding Social Workers’ Motivation to be Field Instructors 
Hospital Restructuring and Social Work Field Education 
Group Supervision in Field Education – Part I 
Group Supervision in Field Education – Part II 
Sexual Orientation in Social Work Education
Emotional Reactions of Students in Field Education: An Exploratory Study

FIELD EVALUATION AND ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT COMPETENCE
Establishing the Reliability and Validity of a Competency Based Evaluation Tool to Assess MSW Students’ Performance in Field Practicum

OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) Adapted for Social Work

Supervision in Mental Health
Clinical Supervision in Mental Health

 

Resources

Educational Outcomes Assessment Tools for use in the OSCE Adapted for Social Work
OSCE SW Performance Rating Scale
OSCE SW Reflection Questions and Rating Scale

Field Education (Practicum, Practice Learning) Evaluation Tools

Competency Based Evaluation (CBE) Tool 
Vignette Matching Evaluation (VME) Tool

Podcasts
Episode 111: Marion Bogo. Innovations in Assessment of Students’ Competence in Social Work
In this episode, Professor Marion Bogo discusses research she has conducted on innovative methods for educational outcomes assessment in social work. She describes a program of research that looks at conceptualizing and assessing social work students’ competence. She also reviews some of the challenges in assessing students in their field experience. Finally, Professor Bogo discusses the development and testing of two innovative assessment methods: 1) an online tool for use in field evaluation and 2) the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) adapted for social work student assessment.

Living Proof Podcast Series, Episode 65 – Marion Bogo: Doing, Thinking, Then Doing Again: Reflective Practice in Field Education
Field education is a signature pedagogy of the social work profession. Professor Marion Bogo discusses what informs this approach to educating social work professionals; the factors that lead to high-quality, effective field instruction; and ongoing challenges to providing it.