Designing and embedding authentic learning opportunities in a social work curriculum: Reflections and lessons learned


  • Eva Bowers Northern Sydney Institute, TAFE NSW
  • Margaret Pack Consultant



child protection, social work education, ethical decision making, supervision, online education


INTRODUCTION: A challenge for many busy educators in social work is how to design realistic case studies to evoke learning experiences that engage the imagination and clinical reasoning of the student. This article focuses on the authors’ experiences of designing and developing authentic case scenarios to embed in learning in a four-year Bachelor of Social Work programme in Australia.

METHOD: Assisted by a grant from the Australian Government Office of Learning and Teaching, a project plan was developed, inspired by Lipsky’s (2010) framework, “street level bureaucracy” and methodology derived from Maynard-Moody and Musheno (2012). The aim was to produce a series of online, filmed podcasts to be embedded into blended learning to enable students to build confidence in ethical decision making.

FINDINGS: Early results from the project suggest that the students found deliberating on ethical dilemmas evoked by the resource a useful addition to more conventional teaching approaches as it tangibly demonstrated the connection of theory to practice in action.

IMPLICATIONS: The approach to both conceptualising and developing such resources could further be utilised in social work education settings and more broadly, in human services occupations including the health sector to focus on confidence building in ethical decision making and navigating the complex interplay between theory and practice. There is potential for the approach to be adapted and used as a reflective tool for established social workers.


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How to Cite

Bowers, E., & Pack, M. (2017). Designing and embedding authentic learning opportunities in a social work curriculum: Reflections and lessons learned. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(1), 99–110.



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