Lecturer in Social Policy
I lead and teach on modules on qualifying (professional) and non-qualifying undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork. I currently lead three full modules on the qualifying B.Soc.Sc. (Youth and Community Work) (BYCW) and one on the qualifying Master of Social Work (MSW). I also lecture on the Doctor of Social Science (D.Soc.Sc.) and the M.Soc.Sc. (Social Policy) postgraduate degrees and contribute to a fourth module on the BYCW. I am extensively involved in professional practice education on the qualifying B.Soc.Sc. (Youth and Community Work) and Master of Social Work (MSW). My roles in professional formation are as below: - Teaching professional formation on a number of modules. These are SS1104 The Principles and Practice of Youth and Community Work; SS1110 Informal and Non-Formal Education; SS3113 Research Methods II; and SS6200 Social Work Theory II: Theory and Practice. - Organising annual induction and end-of-year review days for BYCW Second Year students. These events are important in reviewing student learning and orientating students for the year ahead. - Chairing the Second Year Practice Assessment Board (PAB) of the B.Soc.Sc. (Youth and Community Work). The role of the PAB is to assess, advise on and pass/fail students’ practice placements at the end of each academic year, in summer and autumn. The Board consists of members of the programme team and representatives from the youth and community work fields. - Membership of the Programme Development Team of the B.Soc.Sc. (Youth and Community Work). This team oversees the management and delivery of the degree programme, integration of the theoretical and practice aspects of the programme, and preparation for the recurring professional re-accreditation of the degree. Due to the professional dimension of my teaching role which is focused mainly on mature students, I am compelled to teach in a student-centred way and to encourage critical thinking and reflection through research-informed teaching and by encouraging students to question, research and engage with different perspectives in a way that enables them to develop and progress as thinkers and practitioners, and to engage effectively with each other to share knowledge and experience.
My teaching philosophy is based on pedagogical and andragogical approaches that emphasise student-centredness, reflection and critical reflection, drawing on prior experience and learning from each other. Technology helps me to engage students through different forms of learning, as students learn in different ways. It also helps me to engage them with and in critical thinking and practice by presenting them with different forms of practice and the challenges of the practice environment through watching/listening to videos and recordings of community work practice.
I use email, PowerPoint, YouTube and Blackboard in my teaching practice. From September 2019 I will use CANVAS in my teaching as UCC is switching to CANVAS.
I routinely use PowerPoint and video in my teaching. For example, in teaching Community Work on the BYCW (first year) and MSW programmes (second year) I show three brief video clips of 3-5 minutes each of a community development approach in action to illustrate to students how community development work happens in practice and how it can be used to effect positive change to people’s lives and quality of life. Each clip illustrates a different approach to community development practice. These short clips represent, respectively, an approach to working with men in the community, activism to raise awareness of domestic violence, and anti-racist community work through the development of a community garden (see Table 2). These clips are shown together and students were then asked to discuss what they tell us about the aims, process and values of community development. I have begun to introduce a more blended learning approach to delivery of several modules, drawing on materials which I developed. For example, I have introduced blended learning to my SS6200 Community Work module on the Master of Social work by placing reading and audio materials and related questions online on Blackboard to encourage and enable student learning in their own time. The audio-recordings are of research interviews which I conducted with practising social workers and the reading is a journal article I wrote and published in 2014. This blended approach has therefore enabled me to develop my research-informed teaching.
There are a number of key advantages to using technology in teaching. The main advantages are as follows. - Many students use new technologies all the time and are comfortable in using them. - Students can learn effectively and independently using new technologies. - Giving students different learning options outside of module contact hours offers varied and interesting ways of learning. - Offering learning options outside class time supplements the teaching of short modules. - Video and film can offer real-life examples of the issues, ideas and situations presented in class. - Films are provocative and push students to think differently. - Films provide an experience with which students can connect. - Visual forms of learning are interesting and engaging.
The BSocSc (Youth and Community Work) and the Master of Social Work (MSW) are qualifying programmes which train students to become professional youth and community workers and social workers. It is therefore very important that the programmes are primarily based on face-to-face contact between lecturers and students in the class-room and field settings. Digitisation has an important role however because all students – undergraduate and postgraduate – learn in different ways and lecturers have a responsibility to recognise this and provide different forms of teaching and information that seek to maximise student engagement and knowledge. While BYCW and MSW modules will never be fully digitised for the reasons discussed above, I can see that further digitisation opens tremendous possibilities to expand staff and student horizons and introduce more interesting and exciting ways of teaching and learning.
I have found the SPEEDS training opportunities and resources furnished in UCC particularly useful in developing my digital awareness and skills. I have availed of several SPEEDS training events in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 and these have introduced me to innovative ways of developing the use of TEL in my teaching and helped me to develop my TEl skills and confidence.