Professional knowledge for social work
Supervision is an important component of shaping professional knowledge and development as an NQSW’s practice develops. Professional knowledge is drawn from theories, research findings and practice experience (Drury Hudson, 1997).
These form of knowledge include theoretical knowledge, personal knowledge, practice wisdom, procedural knowledge and empirical knowledge.
There is more information on professional knowledge in supervision and a suggested learning exercise here.
Using knowledge for practice
The Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services (IRISS), argues that practice wisdom integrates a wide range of knowledge. This will include theories and relevant research to our own thoughts and feelings in response to casework. Study participants reported that evidence was relevant information from case histories, notes, observations and reports from other professionals but less from theoretical or research sources.
NQSW’s can benefit from support to maintain their awareness of research knowledge and to become skilled at making connections between casework activities and the human factors that inform their decision making.
You can also highlight the fantastic resource from IRISS for NQSWs on Navigating Evidence.
Supervision is not the only way for workers to develop their professional knowledge and other methods are often used to complement staff development. Tsui et al (2017), argues that a “future path of supervision will be a form of organisational learning, where social workers rely not only on supervision, but also mentorship, consultation and coaching”.
Coaching models are frequently more action oriented and may be particularly useful to balance strong reflector and theorist learning styles. A popular coaching model covered in the learning resource is the GROW model.
Please also see How Social Workers learn in the workplace and our guide to supporting NQSW professional learning and development.
- Consider how your supervision can help NQSW’s strengthen their own learning from practice.
- You may also consider how can you support NQSW to access new knowledge and how the organisation can benefit from NQSW’s experiences.