#APM19 Social Work Education Conference

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Once again I find myself attending the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting in Denver, Colorado. I really enjoy this city and all it has to offer, but the main purpose of this post is to highlight some of my research and give more context to the work I am presenting at this conference. I have already written one blog post about this conference and my poster presentation, which you can view here.

This post is mainly to highlight my two other presentations during the conference. One related to my work to better understand how Social Work Schools and Programs use Twitter, and the other to illustrate how to teach Digital Literacies. The first presentation is based on a research paper that is currently under review. The title and proposal are below:

#SocialWorkEducation: Using Data Science to Understand How Social Work Programs use Twitter

Social media can be a valuable tool in social work education to help collaborate with others, promote programs, engage with alumni, or promote interprofessional education. Social media are defined as an array of digital technologies that allow for the creation and exchange of user-generated content (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010; Kanter & Fine, 2010) and include digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. There is a growing awareness that social work practitioners, students and educators need to be adept at using social media and information communication technology as part of their practice and interaction with clients and organizations of all sizes (Coe Regan & Freddolino, 2008; Getz, 2012; Hitchcock & Young, 2016; National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 2017). As more and more organizations adopt social media to promote their services (Goldkind, 2015; Young, 2017), social work education programs have also utilized social media for a variety of purposes.

The purpose of this paper is to examine how social work education programs use Twitter by leveraging the principles of data science. Data science allows for the analysis of big data sets that can be structured or unstructured to develop understanding, extract knowledge, and formulate actionable results (Cariceo, Nair, & Lytton, 2018, p. 1). Specifically, a text and sentiment analysis of 26,000 tweets, collected over a 10-month period, was performed utilizing the Information, Community, and Action framework (Lovejoy & Saxton, 2012). The author first coded a sample of 2,000 tweets with graduate research assistants utilizing the framework to help identify keywords that could be used in performing a larger text analysis. The sample of tweets also helped to establish more rigor and validity for this study as the author was able to obtain an inter-rater reliability score of 72%. Disagreement within the sample of tweets was addressed and discussed to help identify the most meaningful keywords and categories that could be used for the larger database of the 26,000 tweets. Utilizing the Lovejoy & Saxton (2012) framework categories and keywords, Microsoft Excel along with Microsoft’s Azure Artifical Intelligence Software was utilized to analyze the larger database to identify how social work programs use Twitter and what kind of tone, or sentiment, their tweets contain. Sentiment analysis identifies tweets as positive, neutral, or negative based on the frequency of words within the tweet by using a lexicon. This data mining analysis helps to illustrate how programs engage with other Twitter users to promote their respective schools or programs.

The findings suggest that programs tweet primarily to share information about a variety of topics and opportunities, categorized as Information. Programs also tweet calls to action and try to engage with their online community but not at the same level of sharing information, categorized as Action. A smaller sample of the tweets did engage in more of a dialogic connection between users to promote conversation or interaction, categorized as Community. A majority of the tweets have a neutral sentiment with some also being identified as positive or negative. Interestingly, larger programs were able to produce more tweets and engage with a larger audience. Tweets by larger programs often received more likes and retweets than other smaller programs. A possible reason for this could be the number of staff available in larger programs, but more research is needed to have a definitive conclusion.

Social Work programs can play a pivotal role in helping students to become lifelong learners, increase their digital literacies, and model ethical and appropriate technology use through their curriculum and online presence. However, technology in social work education has been adopted sporadically with moderate degrees of success. This paper supports this notion by evaluating how social work programs use Twitter for a variety of purposes. Attendees will understand how programs are using Twitter and gain ideas for their own programs and efforts regarding the use of social media. By examining the past usage of Twitter, this presentation will help participants look forward to understanding how to use Twitter in more effective ways.

This research project has been fun and challenging as I have had to learn how to use new software to capture and analyze Big Data from Twitter. I mainly used Microsoft’s suite of tools but also supplemented with Rstudio where needed. Computational social science is a new area for me and I still have so much to learn but my hope is that this project will launch some important conversations and future research. One specific aspect that came out of this research was the development of the Top Ten Social Work Schools/Programs on Twitter. Be sure to click the link to find out more 🙂

The second presentation in Denver is related to my ongoing work around New Media Literacies or Digital Literacies, which I have written extensively about here on my blog and in the literature. This presentation has been a few years in the making and something that I myself have even had challenges with, which is why the title of this workshop is so pertinent.

What if there’s no WiFi? Teaching Digital Literacies in Social Work Education

Over the past several years social media and digital technologies in social work education and practice has exploded with books, articles, and trade publications being devoted to the topic (Goldkind, Wolf, & Freddolino, 2018; Hitchcock & Young, 2016; Hitchcock, Sage, & Smyth, 2018). The expectation among students to become digitally competent professionals has been discussed in the literature and many recognize the need to infuse these technologies into the classroom in ways that can build technical competence, social and cultural competencies, and digital literacies (Perron, Taylor, Glass,  & Margerum-Leys, 2010; Young, McLeod, & Brady, 2018). Digital literacies has become essentially an umbrella term that covers many forms of literacy (Considine, Horton, & Moorman, 2009). Media literacy generally refers to “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a wide variety of forms” (Hobbs, 1998, p. 16). The emphasis of media literacy is learning and teaching skills related to the process of critically analyzing and creating messages in a variety of print or digital forms (Hobbs, 1998).  There has been an emergence within the literature regarding the use of social media and digital technologies for the acquisition of specific social work skills that mirrors the forms and methods of media literacy (Hitchcock & Young, 2016; Jones, Sage, & Hitchcock, 2019; Sage, Singer, LaMarre, & Rice, 2018; Young, 2015). The challenge with digital literacies in social work education is that the concept is too broadly defined, and it has not been thoroughly developed, discussed, or researched enough to provide specific guidance on what conceptual framework of digital literacies is suited to the development of professional social work skills. Teaching digital literacies needs to move beyond the skills of critical analysis to building the capacity for engaging, understanding, and communicating with others in a genuine, authentic, and ethically appropriate manner.  Digitally literacies are as much about understanding the how as they are about understanding the why.

The purpose of this workshop is to differentiate between the concepts of digital and media literacies (Belshaw, 2011; Hobbs, 2011; Jenkins, Clinton, Purushotma, Robison, & Weigel, 2009; Rheingold, 2012) as they apply to social work education. Participants will learn about leveraging the participatory culture of social media through the pedagogical framework of Connected Learning to create applied learning activities that motivate students to learn. “Participatory culture is a culture with relatively low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement, strong support for creating and sharing creations, and some type of informal mentorship whereby experienced participants pass along knowledge to novices” (Jenkins et al., 2009, p. 3). The Connected Learning framework rests on six principles: it is interest driven, peer supported, academically oriented, openly networked, production centered, and maintains a shared purpose (Ito et al., 2013). The essential part of Connected Learning and Participatory Culture comes down to the idea of epistemology, or how one comes to know what one knows. It is important to be able to use knowledge, skills, and values in the participatory culture of social media to better understand how to function, participate, collaborate, and ultimately achieve some task or goal. Fortunately, bridging all these ideas together in the classroom is relatively easy and educators can accomplish multiple objectives in their quest to enhance the digital literacies of their students.

The specific digital literacies that will be covered in this workshop stem from the 12 New Media Literacies Skills identified by Jenkins et al. (2009). These skills include appropriation, performance, judgement, simulation, transmedia navigation, multitasking, distributed cognition, collective intelligence, play, networking, negotiation, and visualization. Participants will understand what each term means and explore specific strategies to teach each skill using technology when appropriate, or not using any technology at all if there is no WiFi for instance. It is important to consider which digital literacies to utilize in the classroom because a careful review will ensure that the educator has matched the literacies appropriately to their learning objectives in the course. It’s important to remember that social media and digital technologies are just tools and should not be used to replace sound pedagogy (Young, McLeod, Brady, 2018). However, building applied learning activities around the ideas of new media literacies can help students to realize the potential of social media and digital technology for solving complex issues and developing tangible skills that will be incredibly useful during the course of their professional career. Through the demonstrations in this workshop educators will be able to help students develop the requisite technical, social, and cultural competencies to be ethical and effective social workers.

This workshop will be very hands-on, which is good because it is early early Sunday morning 🙂 Hopefully social work educators will come away from the workshop understanding that digital literacies are critically important for our students and that while we can teach them the necessary skills, knowledge, and values to ensure they are competent ethical professionals, we don ‘t necessarily need to rely on technology to get the job done. This may sound weird, especially coming from a technology advocate like myself, but in the real world, we may not always have access to the latest technologies or even the fastest internet. We should not let that slow us down in terms of preparing our students for the vastly digital world we now practice in.

CSWE #APM19

It’s that time of year again where I am attending the Council on Social Work Education’s Annual Program Meeting in beautiful Denver, Colorado. I wanted to provide a bit of context for a Poster Presentation I am giving with a colleague from Eastern Michigan University. 4f616c91_3217_4da7_807e_ede1e41bf98e_276dbd3a-8822-49ba-9246-41767b077386Dr. Angie Mann-Williams and I have been working with Virginia Repertory Theatre and Families Forward Virginia for the past decade on evaluating the Hugs & Kisses Child Sex Abuse Prevention and Awareness Play. The poster we are presenting demonstrates the unique and innovative model of how this evaluation demonstrates that children in kindergarten through fifth grades are able to increase their knowledge of good, bad, and secret touching as well as understanding that they can take action to stop secret touching. Here is the conference proposal:

The American Medical Association (2008) identified childhood sexual abuse as a silent epidemic whereby at least one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18 (Centers for Disease Control, 2011). It has been widely documented in the literature that being sexually abused as a child increases the risk of developing behavioral issues, mental health disorders, as well as other health issues (Dong et al., 2002; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000; Whitaker et al., 2008).  As a result, significant interest and resources have focused on child sexual abuse prevention.  The aim of this presentation is to highlight Hugs & Kisses, a school-based child sexual abuse prevention play, along with the program’s robust mixed-methods evaluation model. The presentation will also address how this program and evaluation model has been carried into social work coursework to demonstrate the role that evaluation research has on social work curricula at the bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Since 1983, Hugs & Kisses has been presented annually in elementary schools throughout Virginia. The primary safety lessons taught in the play are: 1) the concept of secret touching; 2) if you experience secret touching you should tell a trusted adult; 3) private parts of your body are those that are covered by a swimsuit; 4) children have the right to say “no” to secret touching; and, 5) secret touching is never the child’s fault.  Hugs & Kisses is a joint production of Families Forward, Virginia Repertory Theatre, and the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS). With a rich 36-year history, Hugs & Kisses continues to be an innovative prevention program with a rigorous evaluation model.

Families Forward, Virginia Repertory Theatre and the Virginia Department of Social Services (DSS) each play a unique role in the facilitation of the Hugs & Kisses play.  The presenters, who act as the program evaluators, interface with all stake-holding agencies to facilitate the evaluation. To evaluate the efficacy of the play, a mixed-methods systematic evaluation model was developed.  The evaluation model includes a teacher evaluation form to test pre-play preparation and post-play experiences, a valid and reliable children’s questionnaire to assess the level of knowledge children gain as a result of viewing the play, and comparative results over time. The aim of the teacher evaluation is to evaluate their understanding of the content of the play as well as their readiness to discuss the main themes of the play in a post-play discussion.  The children’s survey targets the post-play knowledge of the key themes of the play.

The sample was gathered during the spring 2016 tour of Hugs & Kisses.  The aim of the sampling process is done to maximize representation of all counties and cities in which where the play is booked, including urban, suburban, and rural localities. Families Forward distributed evaluation materials to 50 schools that initially book the Hugs & Kisses play.  All participating schools were asked to choose one class per grade for the children’s evaluation process.   Thirty-one of the 50 schools where the play was booked (62% response rate) participated in both the student and teacher evaluation process. This participation netted 2,700 children’s questionnaires and 154 teachers’ surveys.

Based on the data received, this presentation highlights key findings from the systematic analysis.  Such findings will include the pass rates for the children’s questionnaire (overall and by grade), teachers’ readiness to discuss various aspects of child sexual abuse, and factor analysis of the children’s survey instrument. Lastly, findings from the analyses whereby the teacher’s surveys and children’s surveys are matched to determine the effectiveness of in-class discussions, in-service training, and study guide on enhancing the children’s understanding of the themes of the play.

Just in case you wanted to see a quick snippet of the play, here is a video from Virginia Repertory Theatre:

The play is really amazing and over one million children have seen the play in Virginia since 1983. Our evaluation data clearly show this play is having a tremendous impact. One thing we did differently with our poster was utilized a new design that has been developed by Mike Morrison. Below you can see our poster and you should be able to click on it to expand it and see a bit more information.

[Insert Poster from slideshare here]

 

We have a paper under progress so we don’t want to share too much information at this time. We are also moving forward with several papers related to this overall project and I hope to be updating regularly about the Hugs prevention program, so stay tuned 🙂

 

Tenure & Promotion

I guess it’s nearly been a year since my last blog post so I should probably update 🙂

To be honest, I have been contemplating moving from WordPress back to blogger and just haven’t pulled the trigger. Mainly, I just don’t blog that much anymore but I do plan to keep a blog because it’s a good placeholder for conference papers, research, etc.

Screen Shot 2019-10-03 at 10.33.59 AMThe actual reason for this post is to just mention that I have been granted tenure and promotion to Associate Professor here at California State University-San Marcos. Some of you that follow me on Twitter already know this but we had a small celebration last night for all the faculty that were recently promoted. It was a nice gathering and incredibly interesting to hear about the work of my colleagues across campus.

One thing that really stood out to me was when my Dean was going over some of my academic achievements thus far. Here is a quick snippet:

  • 22 Publications across journals, book contributions, trade publications, and curriculum guides.
  • 57 presentations at national and international conferences.
  • 14 different courses taught in social work education, including one I developed from scratch that focused on social media use, digital activism, and eCitizenship.
  • 30 reviews for conference proposals, journals, or books.
  • Seemingly countless hours of committee service
  • At least 1,467 tacos consumed (although that number is just an estimate).

So the Dean may not have shared my love for tacos with everyone but I was a bit in disbelief by some of the other stats because I feel like I haven’t been in the Academy that long and still have so much more work to do and research to complete. I have plenty of years left to finish it all and I look forward to the many opportunities that may come my way. Huge thank you to my colleagues in my department and across my professional collaboration network for getting me to where I am today. And of course, many many thanks to my wife and family because without them I simply would not be able to achieve anything!

Here’s to the next several decades of teaching, research, and service!!!

Five Years of Twitter Chats

imgresThis Thursday, March 8th, 2018 will mark my fifth year facilitating a live a Twitter chat. The topics have evolved in that time from the first chat focused on #GunControlPolicy in the wake of the Newtown Incident to Economic Inequality. This Thursday I will be once again facilitating the chat on Economic Inequality in partnership with the folks at #MacroSW and hope that you will all join us. You can find out more about the chat, which also uses the Film Inequality for All as a centerpiece for discussion, by visiting macrosw.com.

Looking back over the past five years I have been wondering what this conversation has actually accomplished? Dr. Laurel Hitchcock and I have published some findings in Social Work Education: The International Journal, which demonstrates that students do benefit from the Live chats. However, I can’t help but feel like the discourse in the United States has changed, in part because of social media and in part because of our current state of affairs. I think it is telling that the first chat was centered on Gun Control Policy and here five years later there has been little to no progress on that front. As social workers, even as a society I think we should be able to do better. This does not imply that having a discussion, whether on Twitter or some other form, is ineffective. Rather, I think it points to the fact that we should be discussing more and that we should be trying harder to implement positive social change. I would say that we are doing better in having the discussion on hard topics that were once very hidden and that is progress.

Progress usually comes about through small incremental steps and I feel like too often we are looking for some grand amazing change that we can all point to as success or failure. It’s more complicated than that, which I would hope we can realize is part of the reason why we must persist in our efforts. Thankfully, many amazing social workers and other change agents continue to persist and change the status quo. For example, #MacroSW now offers weekly Live Twitter Chats on a variety of topics. You have the opportunity to engage, listen, and work to enact positive social change. With a Twitter chat? Yes!!! Change has to begin somewhere and it starts with you, me, us.

The problems facing society are great and complex, but that does not mean we should sit back, toss our arms up and simply give up. I understand that some get burnt out and that change is hard. Change is incredibly hard but totally worth it. I hope that you will join us this Thursday at 6pm Central/ 9pm Eastern Standard Time for a chat about Economic Inequality, but I hope that you will stay and become engaged in whatever topic you are passionate about because we need you, and if you are unsure about how to get engaged then just come and listen or “lurk” on the conversation until you are comfortable enough to engage. I hope you will find something of value with our community.

Are you a Social Media Master?

Social-media-masterI was recently visiting a colleague’s blog and reading through some possible assignments that social work educators can integrate into their curriculum. One of the assignments was about finding an online quiz to assess digital literacies. I am happy to report that I have written about this topic in the academic literature and utilized such a tool. I am now offering that tool here just for the amusement of anyone who wants to see what their New Media Literacy score is. Enjoy.

I had to add a password to the quiz so find me on Twitter and I’ll be happy to share.

https://csusm.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_eu1yxhAywTfXcS9

Very Quick UPdate

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything on this blog since the election. I guess I needed that time to recover 🙂

In all seriousness though I have been pretty busy volunteering in a vast array of capacities. I have reviewed lots of tech and social work related proposals and a couple manuscripts. This in addition to my regular academic work is doing a great job of keeping me up at night. Lately, I have been still plugging away on a couple social media related research projects. However, I am slowly trying to move beyond into an area where I have mainly operated as a consultant. I, along with a colleague, conduct a program evaluation for a child sexual abuse prevention play and it is awesome. The play is called Hugs & Kisses and is performed by the Virginia Repertory Theatre out of Richmond, Virginia. The play uses child appropriate language to teach children in grades kindergarten through fifth the concepts of good touch, bad touch, and secret touch. You can check out this short clip for more information and also their website https://va-rep.org/tour/hugs.html.

This play is really amazing and kids absolutely love it. It has been very effective at teaching these important concepts. But where do I come in for all of this besides performing the annual evaluation? Well, my colleague and I are trying to do some more research around the language used in childhood sexual abuse prevention. The literature is surprisingly scant on this topic and anecdotally I have heard that even in abuse investigations some social workers do not adequately investigate for sexual abuse. We wonder if educating children can help with prevention. Well, the obvious answer is yes because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But! We want to know more so we can help create better interventions and take prevention even further.

If you are a social worker, educator, counselor, or helping professional I would be interested to hear your opinion on the topic of childhood sex abuse prevention. Leave a comment or send me an email. I look forward to the conversation and I will try to post some more regular updates here about my on-going work.

The Millionaire-Billionaire Rule

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I honestly have no idea whether that meme above is accurate, but truthfully I don’t really care. The reality is that economic inequality in this country is at an all-time high, and that is not a good thing!

I realize many are still coming to terms with the idea or reality of a Trump Presidency but I would actually be pleased if he follows through on his promise NOT to take the $400,000 Presidential salary.  Trump will join only two other Presidents who have NOT taken a salary while in office, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, if he keeps his promise. This got me thinking about income inequality and the salaries of our elected officials. According to a brief report from the Congressional Research Service, the average salary for elected representatives is around $170,000 a year, and we know they all get some pretty amazing benefits…like a members-only gym and amazing health insurance. But what I think is more important is, what is the net worth of these individuals when they take office. Trump, for example, is reported to be a Billionaire, and by some estimates more than half of Congress are millionaires!!!

Do millionaires and billionaires working for the public good really need to take a government salary or could that money be spent elsewhere?

I personally think it could be used more effectively somewhere else!

To that end I created a petition on We The People, the government website for petitions, to see if we might make a change in regards to the ultra wealthy elected officials. Specifically, I think that anyone who is an elected official or appointed to a Cabinet position AND is worth more than a million dollars should not take the government salary. Instead, that money should be diverted to Education, Health and Human Services, or the Veteran’s Administration. These are critical areas that always seem to be the first on the budget chopping block and perhaps we could help save by spending money where it matters the most. If you think this is a valuable idea then I encourage you to sign and share the petition. Share it with your networks on Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you hang out online. Let’s see what kind of change we can make.

Here’s the link to the petition: https://wh.gov/ieMAH

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#APM16 Council on Social Work Education Annual Conference

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-2-51-53-pmLater this week I am headed to Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the 2016 Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education.  I have attended this meeting every year for the past 6 years and I still get excited to go, mainly to see old friends and meet new colleagues. This year I am continuing my work by presenting the ideas of Student Engagement in Online Education and Digital Literacies. I have previously participated in a panel at other APM’s and I have written about Student Engagement on this blog here. I am also presenting on Digital Literacies, a project I created an entire course around when I worked at my previous institution and I am still analyzing data from. I presented a variant of what I am doing at APM this year at another conference and also wrote about that here.  I will be tweeting lots from the conference so feel free to connect with me via Twitter, but I hope to see you there in Atlanta. Travel safe!

My Philosophy of Teaching… I think?!?

Media LiteracyIt’s a new semester and new academic year. I can’t believe this is now my second semester at CSUSM and that I have effectively been teaching for over 5 years. I like to think I have learned a lot about teaching, learning, and education in that time but I think the more I have learned the more I understand how much i DON’T know or just when I think I have an assignment figured out, something changes requiring me to adapt and change with it. Some of my friends think that as a professor I spend most of my time sitting around doing nothing. HA! Little do they know about the hours of planning and adjusting assignments and policies to ensure that I am meeting certain learning outcomes. I get it, that sometimes it seems like things I do (or educators in general) don’t make sense. In reality, you have to remember the big picture and understand that much of learning is a process and that things do build upon each other.

To that end I have been thinking about my own philosophy of teaching. I actually wrote a blog post about this as a doc student many years ago if you are interested you can read it here. Essentially, my philosophy of teaching tends to be student-centered. I realize that students bring a lot of knowledge and experience into the classroom. The challenge I have is getting students to recognize that they have something to bring and they can make such a meaningful contribution to our learning if they share. Along with knowledge and skills the students bring, I have realized they also bring anxiety or trepidation about sharing and being shut down. I understand that students need to feel comfortable (something that the University of Chicago just negated so to speak) before they can share. I try to empathize with students and let them know that my classroom is a safe space and I try to make it so that they can share. But I realize that the message does not always come through. I hope to keep on trying to communicate this as I move forward.

Being student-centered to me is about making students comfortable but also understanding that it can be challenging to wrestle with tough topics like racism and oppression or statistics. What I try to do is set students up to feel empowered to take on those challenges in a way that they know they can try, even if they fail or get a B-…But at least they can understand they are learning. For me it is about thinking critically and valuing the process of learning, respecting one’s peers, and keeping an open mind. I tend to use digital media in my classes because of my research interests but lately I question the use of those mediums as students appear to be overly distracted. I know that my teaching philosophy is going to change and it will continually change over the course of my career but I hope students will always know they can come to me if they have questions. That connection is important and feeling empowered is critically important to the learning process.

So for this new semester I do plan to try a couple of new things both using and not using technology. If I have any students reading this blog I hope they will understand that I may not have all the answers but at least I can help them find what they are looking for and to do so in a way that helps to transform the way they look at education and interacting with people. Best of luck to everyone with the new semester and if you have any good ideas, tips or tricks. Please consider sharing.

Thanks!

End of the Semester Reflections, Spring 2016

My students sometimes give me the roll-eyed look when I talk about our profession being one of self-reflection. I know it’s true and I am confident that you can find many programs across the country that also have some sort of reflection-based assignment in one of their courses. Self-reflection is critical to the learning process. There is even a great journal focused solely on this subject called Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. Full disclosure, I have a recent publication in this journal 🙂  To this end I thought I would reflect a bit on the second semester of my first year at Cal State San Marcos.

This semester has been full of working with students on their culminating experience, which is either a capstone project or Thesis. I had the opportunity to chair several projects and be part of others. These projects focused on veterans, homelessness, and social media in clinical social work practice. I’m sure the students might share a different perspective, but I enjoyed the opportunity to work with them. It was challenging at times and yes I am exhausted but that could be due to the fact that I haven’t read that much paper since my dissertation phase.  These projects turned out rather well and gave me a renewed sense to pursue some avenues of research I was becoming dis-interested in. For example, one group focused on developing an advocacy campaign around homelessness. See the trailer below. I was truly amazed at how well this project turned out and extremely pleased with the learning demonstrated by these, and all students.

 

 

Another example of some great student learning through reflection happened in my macro practice course. I employ a critical thinking presentation assignment and pretty much leave it open to the students to create a presentation that demonstrates their learning as it applies to one or more of the course learning objectives. These objectives are also tied to the learning competencies set forth by CSWE. Students did an amazing job this semester thinking critically and reflecting on their learning. I use twitter in this class and I had students create presentations that used some of the twitter assignment that they completed in class.  One particularly creative use of this was developing a word cloud of the course hashtag from the semester’s tweets and talking about how it related to their learning.

word cloud

If you are interested in creating word clouds you can use a number of different web-based platforms such as http://www.wordle.net/ or applications like TweetRoot. I really like the word clouds because they also represent a form of data visualization where the larger words represent the number of times those words were used. It is reassuring to see my students tweeting messages, links, and other content related to community, awareness, and change. These are things that definitely make up Macro Social Work practice.

I can honestly say this semester has been fun and challenging. I thoroughly enjoy teaching students about macro social work and positive social change. I am looking forward to teaching research this summer and to my other class in the fall. But I’m wondering what you do to help students reflect, be mindful, and engage in otherwise formative learning activities?  Maybe you, as a student, have participated in a learning activity that was especially meaningful. I hope that you will leave a comment and let me know so I can think about using my class the next time 🙂

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