Teaching critical reflection: a tool for transformative learning in social work

Uschi Bay, Selma McFarlane

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56 Citations (Scopus)


In an Australian Bachelor of Social Work degree, critical reflection is a process explicitly taught in a fourth year subject to students who have returned from their first field placement experience in agencies delivering social work programmes. The purpose of teaching critical reflection is to enable social work students to become autonomous and critical thinkers who can reflect on society, the role of social work and social work practices. The way critical reflection is taught in this fourth year social work unit relates closely to the aims of transformative learning. Transformative learning aims to assist students to become autonomous thinkers. Specifically, the critical reflection process taught in this subject aims to assist students to recognise their own and other people s frames of reference, to identify the dominant discourses circulating in making sense of their experience, to problematise their taken-for -granted lived experience , to reconceptualise identity categories, disrupt assumed causal relations and to reflect on how power relations are operating. Critical reflection often draws on many theoretical frameworks to enable the recognition of current modes of thinking and doing. In this paper, we will draw primarily on how post-structural theories, specifically Foucault s theorising, disrupt several taken-for-granted concepts in social work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745 - 758
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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