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Writing Workshop for FSW Students 2007

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Title: Writing Workshop for FSW Students 2007


1
Writing Workshop for FSW Students 2007
  • By
  • Dr. Deena Mandell, FSW
  • Emmy Misser, Writing Centre

2
In this workshop we will talk about
  • Intellectual practices in academic writing
  • Structural coherence in academic texts
  • Introductions
  • Literature reviews
  • Personal reflection in social work papers
  • And we will give you easy, practical exercises

3
Intellectual Practices in academic writing
  • Sorting out what is known, unknown or
    controversial in a specific area
  • Identifying issues
  • Proposing something
  • Offering analysis
  • Giving reasons
  • Providing empirical evidence
  • Acknowledging our position
  • Organizing our discourse within a context of work
    done by others in the field
  • Integrating information from sources with ones
    own knowledge
  • Adjusting ones writing to suit a purpose

4
Text sample showing intellectual practices
5
  • Differences in cultural frame are important.
    There has been controversy about whether social
    work and theories of it may be considered
    global or restricted in their use (identifying an
    issue). They arose, historically, in Western
    democratic countries, and their value-base has
    Jewish/Christian origins (contextualizing the
    issue). Three sets of arguments support the
    claim that we should not apply them too widely
    (orienting the reader).

6
  • First, value and cultural bases of different
    societies may be (qualifier) incompatible with
    assumptions and prescriptions within Western
    social work (proposing something). For example,
    writing on social work in Chinese and other
    Eastern countries claims that the individualistic
    assumptions of much Euro-American social work
    would not hold true in societies which give
    importance to interdependence within families and
    respect for authority (sorting out what is
    controversial). Chow (1987), considering Chinese
    and Western philosophies of care, points out that
    Western social work is based on the importance of
    the individual, with an associated concept of
    individual rights (using the work of others to
    organize the text). In Chinese social
    assumptions, individuals rights are not
    emphasized. Rather, the responsibilities of
    being part of a network of family relationships
    are central (analysis). So Western assumptions
    that the aim of work with young people is to
    prepare them for independence from families,
    rather than continuing interdependence, might be
    inappropriate (analysis showing why the
    proposition above is reasonable) (Payne, 1997,
    p.8).

7
  • (The text goes on to provide evidence to support
    the proposition. The evidence summarizes the
    arguments of six researchers in the field).
  • Ko (1987) shows how conceptions of the family
    altered as political and social change affected
    mainland China. Chan (1987) comments on
    conflicts arising from attempts to maintain
    traditional parental authority in changing social
    climates, and the emphasis given to harmonious,
    non-conflictual relationships between children
    and others. Fong and Sandu (1995) argue that
    Chinese values prefer hierarchical to egalitarian
    behaviour in authority figures, external to
    internal controls, controlled rather than
    uninhibited self-expression and prescribed rather
    than free roles. Roan (1980) proposes, using
    Taiwanese experience, that workers should assess
    traditional attitudes to authority and status,
    whether working with families rather than
    individuals is the preferred cultural approach
    and what traditional mutual aid systems a
    particular society has. Canda (1988) argues that
    social work must take account of diverse
    spiritualities, including religious and
    non-religious view, since these are found in a
    wide variety of ethnic groups in all societies.
    In a study of Korea, Canda et al. (1993)
    identified a range of personal and social
    objectives which influence ethnic minorities in
    Western societies but might usefully influence
    Western thought more. Examples are.(Payne,
    1997, p.8)
  • Remember that this text unit constitutes the
    first of the three sets of arguments announced at
    the beginning.

8
This text is academic because
  • It identifies and contextualizes the issue
  • It engages with it in critical way
  • It responds to it by taking a position (but
    qualifies it)
  • It clarifies what the underlying assumptions are
  • It sorts out what is controversial about the
    issue
  • It organizes and develops the texts around
    supporting arguments made by others in the field
  • It offers analysis
  • It supports the analysis with evidence
  • The analysis uses concepts and material integral
    to the field
  • In doing all this it builds a case for a
    particular position

9
Intellectual practices in academic writing
  • Can help you understand
  • How academic texts are written
  • They are the component parts argument - support
  • How you read them
  • They structure the text, so you need to locate
    them to evaluate the argument
  • How you write them
  • They should be the component parts of your own
    texts to emphasize your grasp of the issues

10
Structural Coherence
11
Reader expectations
  • The organization and flow of the writing sustains
    continuous reading from a point of departure
  • In a clear direction
  • Towards a destination
  • The writing supports this continuous, directed
    movement
  • Does not let us down with disconnections,
    unexpected turns, or loops that force us to read
    back over previous sections
  • Gottschalk and Hjortshoj (10)

12
Structural Coherence
  • Text features that are imposed for the reader
  • Coherence features
  • shape the text to make it readable
  • establish a hierarchy of ideas
  • create an infrastructure in the text so that the
    readers can orient themselves quickly

13
Coherence Features Macro and Micro
  • Macro features
  • Title (forecasts the main point of the paper)
  • Introduction (provides a point of departure
  • Purpose and thesis / problem
  • Structure and logic of the body of the text
  • Organized into a continuous, forward-moving
    sequence that connect
  • Paragraphs (that link back to the main point) and
  • develop an idea in detail
  • Transitions between paragraphs
  • Conclusion
  • Micro features
  • Sentences that build on each other
  • Precise word choice

14
Exercise 1
  • Several statements in the first 3 sections
    Introduction, Applying Theory to Practice
    Decisions, Critical Thinking Skills, 75-77, give
    focus and direction to the whole paper.
  • Please locate the following
  • Problem statement The article is written in
    response to a problem What is it?
  • Topic/purpose statement Find the statement that
    explicitly says what the article sets out to do
  • Transition statement Find transition statements
    that tie the three sections together
  • Statement of argument Find the statement that
    articulates the argument being advanced in this
    article
  • Outline What is the relationship between the
    argument and the headings in the rest of the
    paper?

15
  • TEACHING CRITICAL THINKING
  • IN SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE COURSES
  • Applying Theory to Practice Decisions
  • Problem statement
  • Without critical thinking skills, practical
    application will prove difficult students and
    practitioners will find themselves confused by
    the plethora of theories or by the complexity of
    applying theories to the situation that arises in
    practice (76).
  • Topic/purpose statement
  • This article describes the methods for teaching
    critical thinking in graduate and undergraduate
    social work practice courses (76).
  • Transition statement
  • Before exploring methods, however, it is
    important to specify the skills students should
    be taught (76).
  • Statement of argument
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • These skills should be taught by introducing
    students to critical thinking skills, (by)
    teaching students how to evaluate the theories
    that guide social work practice, and (by) using
    assignments that require students to use critical
    thinking skills (77).

16
  • The hierarchy of headings
  • TEACHING CRITICAL THINKING
  • IN SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE COURSES
  • Applying Theory
  • to Practice Decisions
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Introducing Students
  • to Critical Thinking Skills
  • Graduate Students
  • Undergraduate Students
  • Critical Evaluation of Theories
  • Graduate Students
  • Historical Perspective.

17
In summary
  • The first part of the article doesnt just say
  • This is what I am going to talk about and this is
    how I am going to do it.
  • It tells you that
  • Critical thinking is important to social workers
  • It explains WHY critical thinking is important
    and what the cost is of not teaching critical
    thinking skills
  • It states WHAT the authors are going to do in
    response to this problem (describe methods for
    teaching critical thinking)
  • And finally it makes an argument about HOW
    critical thinking skills should be taught

18
Exercise 2 Work in detail with Critical
Evaluation of Theories p.78-82
  • Number the paragraphs ( to navigate the section)
  • Describe their sequence (Skim the topic
    sentences)
  • What does the sequence tell us? Does it make a
    point?
  • How does the sequence of the material contribute
    to the development of the main argument?
  • Locate cohesive devices
  • Headings, sub-headings
  • Transition statement (tying two or more sections
    together)
  • Transition words and phrases (that cue the reader
    to make connections in paragraphs and between
    paragraphs)

19
Topic sentence outline
  • Graduate students are taught how to evaluate
    theories using several activities.
  • Graduate students evaluate multiple theories
    during the semester.
  • After the students choose the theories they want
    to cover during the course, each elects either to
    give a presentation explaining a theory or to
    demonstrate its application.
  • During the first week of each unit, a student or
    the instructor presents the assumptions, terms,
    and concepts of the theory under analysis.
  • Students discuss the theorys historical
    perspective, assumptions, logical flaws,
    usefulness for assessment and/or intervention,
    overall strengths and weaknesses, and potential
    practice dilemmas.
  • Historical Perspective, Assumptions, Logical
    Flaws, Usefulness in Practice, Strengths and
    Weaknesses, (extra paragraph), Practice Dilemmas
  • For undergraduate students, a condensed and
    simplified version of the graduate process is
    used.
  • Each theory is presented through readings,
    lectures, and class discussion.
  • After exploring these theories, the students are
    introduced to the components of a theory.
  • The final stage in studying multiple theories is
    to examine criteria for evaluating them.
  • Find cues and transition words that tell the
    reader what this section is about.

20
Topic sentence outline
  • Graduate students are taught how to evaluate
    theories using several activities.
  • Graduate students evaluate multiple theories
    during the semester.
  • After the students choose the theories they want
    to cover during the course, each elects either to
    give a presentation explaining a theory or to
    demonstrate its application.
  • During the first week of each unit, a student or
    the instructor presents the assumptions, terms,
    and concepts of the theory under analysis.
  • Students discuss the theorys historical
    perspective, assumptions, logical flaws,
    usefulness for assessment and/or intervention,
    overall strengths and weaknesses, and potential
    practice dilemmas (one complete paragraph).
  • Seven paragraphs follow on Historical
    Perspective, Assumptions, Logical Flaws,
    Usefulness in Practice, Strengths and Weaknesses,
    (two paragraphs), Practice Dilemmas
  • For undergraduate students, a condensed and
    simplified version of the graduate process is
    used.
  • Each theory is presented through readings,
    lectures, and class discussion.
  • After exploring these theories, the students are
    introduced to the components of a theory.
  • The final stage in studying multiple theories is
    to examine criteria for evaluating them.

21
Introductions
22
Introductions
  • Why are they necessary?
  • They give focus, direction, purpose to the reader
    of the paper
  • What do they do?
  • Explain the project to the reader
  • When do you write them?
  • Last thats when you know what you are
    introducing

23
Why are introductions so hard to write?
  • Because they have to anticipate the questions the
    reader in the field will ask
  • They have to answer them in an order thats
    logical to the reader
  • They have to ignore the order the writer is most
    comfortable with the order of the research
    process
  • We will go through two models for introductions

24
Booth, Colomb, and Williams A Common Structure
for Introductions
  • Common Ground Opening Moves
  • Context - of shared understanding about the
    current status of the problem or
    taken-for-granted background
  • Disruption Denial but, however, on the other
    hand, etc.
  • Statement of the problem -This statement
    includes what we do no know or fully
    understand and what the costs will be if we do
    not respond to the problem or what the
    benefits will be if we do
  • Resolution Statement of response
  • Main point or launching point (249)

25
  • Common Ground Opening Moves
  • Context - of shared understanding about the
    current status of the problem
  • Critical thinking skills are an important
    component of social work education because they
    are essential to good decision making, the
    foundation of ethical and effective clinical
    practice (Gambill, 1990).
  • Disruption Denial but, however, on the other
    hand, etc.
  • Statement of the problem
  • Without critical thinking skills practical
    application will prove difficult students and
    practitioners will find themselves confused by
    the plethora of theories or by the complexity of
    applying theories to the situations that arise in
    practice. (the cost of doing nothing about the
    problem)
  • Resolution Statement of response
  • Main point or launching point. What the authors
    are going to do in response to this problem
  • This article describes methods for teaching
    critical thinking in graduate and undergraduate
    social work practice courses.
  • These skills should be taught by introducing
    students to critical thinking skills, teaching
    students how to evaluate the theories that guide
    social work practice, and using assignments that
    require students to use critical thinking skills.

26
Text sample of introduction
27
  • Deconstructing masculinityreconstructing men by
    Bob Pease
  • How is the introductory paragraph structured?
  • 1. In recent years, feminist theories have all
    been interrogated by feminist postmodern and
    poststructural perspectives. There has been
    considerable debate about the implications of
    these interrogations for the feminist project of
    the emancipation of women (Hirschman, 1992
    Nicholson, 1990 Scott, 1988 Spelman, 1988
    Weedon 1987). Little attention, however, has been
    given to the implication of these debates for the
    critical investigation of men. In this chapter, I
    will explore the implications of postmodern
    feminism for theorising and changing men.
  • What is the purpose of the second paragraph?
  • 2. While being mindful of the dangers identified
    in the feminist debates about essentialism and
    difference in relation to the category of women
    (Evans, 1990 Fuss, 1987 Soper, 1990), I am
    interested in what we can learn from these
    debates about the category of men. If we
    question the constituency of women, I would
    argue that we must equally question the
    constituency of men. If there is progressive
    potential in unpacking the term women, why not
    unpack men too? The men of white feminism
    have too often been white, middle-class men, for
    women who wanted equality with men did not seek
    equality with non-white men (Phelan, 1991,
    p.128). Thus we should avoid lumping all men
    together in a uniform category and, when
    discussing men, we should remember which men we
    are talking about.

28
  • Argument
  • 1. In recent years, feminist theories have all
    been interrogated by feminist postmodern and
    poststructural perspectives. There has been
    considerable debate about the implications of
    these interrogations for the feminist project of
    the emancipation of women (Hirschman, 1992
    Nicholson, 1990 Scott, 1988 Spelman, 1988
    Weedon 1987)(Context of shared understanding).
    Little attention, however, has been given to the
    implication of these debates for the critical
    investigation of men (Problem that has not been
    dealt with). In this chapter, I will explore the
    implications of postmodern feminism for
    theorising and changing men (Blueprint).
  • 2. While being mindful of the dangers identified
    in the feminist debates about essentialism and
    difference in relation to the category of women
    (Evans, 1990 Fuss, 1987 Soper, 1990), I am
    interested in what we can learn from these
    debates about the category of men. If we
    question the constituency of women, I would
    argue that we must equally question the
    constituency of men (Main argument). If there
    is progressive potential in unpacking the term
    women, why not unpack men too? The men of
    white feminism have too often been white,
    middle-class men, for women who wanted equality
    with men did not seek equality with non-white men
    (Phelan, 1991, p.128). Thus we should avoid
    lumping all men together in a uniform category
    and, when discussing men, we should remember
    which men we are talking about (Point of
    departure).

29
  • Text Cues in bold
  • 1. In recent years, feminist theories have all
    been interrogated by feminist postmodern and
    poststructural perspectives. There has been
    considerable debate about the implications of
    these interrogations for the feminist project of
    the emancipation of women (Hirschman, 1992
    Nicholson, 1990 Scott, 1988 Spelman, 1988
    Weedon 1987)(Context of shared understanding).
    Little attention, however, has been given to the
    implication of these debates for the critical
    investigation of men (Problem that has not been
    dealt with). In this chapter, I will explore the
    implications of postmodern feminism for
    theorising and changing men (Blueprint).
  • 2. While being mindful of the dangers identified
    in the feminist debates about essentialism and
    difference in relation to the category of women
    (Evans, 1990 Fuss, 1987 Soper, 1990), I am
    interested in what we can learn from these
    debates about the category of men. If we
    question the constituency of women, I would
    argue that we must equally question the
    constituency of men (Main argument). If there
    is progressive potential in unpacking the term
    women, why not unpack men too? The men of
    white feminism have too often been white,
    middle-class men, for women who wanted equality
    with men did not seek equality with non-white men
    (Phelan, 1991, p.128). Thus we should avoid
    lumping all men together in a uniform category
    and, when discussing men, we should remember
    which men we are talking about (Point of
    departure).

30
Swales CARS (Create A Research Space) Model
  • Move 1 Establishing a territory
  • Step 1 Claiming centrality and/or
  • Step 2 Making topic generalization(s) and/or
  • Step 3 Reviewing items of previous research
  • Move 2 Establishing a niche
  • Step 1A Counter claiming or
  • Step 1B Indicating a gap or
  • Step 1C Question Raising or
  • Step 1D Continuing a tradition
  • Move 3 Occupying the niche
  • Step 1A Outlining purposes or
  • Step 1B Announcing present research
  • Step 2 Announcing principal findings
  • Step 3 I Indicating research structure
  • This model shows the context that the lit review
    appears in

31
The Literature Review
32
The literature review
  • A review of the literature is a classification
    and evaluation of what accredited scholars and
    researchers have written on a topic, organized
    according to a guiding concept such as your
    research objective, thesis, or the problem/issue
    you wish to address.
  • http//www.hswriting.ca/handouts/lit-review.asp

33
Why do we provide the reader with a review of
the literature?
  • In writing the literature review, your purpose
    is to convey to your reader what knowledge and
    ideas have been established on a topic, and what
    their strengths and weaknesses are. As a piece of
    writing, the literature review must be defined by
    a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective,
    the problem or issue you are discussing, or your
    argumentative thesis). It is not just a
    descriptive list of the material available, or a
    set of summaries.
  • http//www.utoronto.ca/writing/litrev.html

34
What do we learn from doing a lit. review?
  • Recognizing relevant information
  • Applying principles of analysis to identify
    valid and reliable studies as well as biases
    shaping existing research
  • Synthesizing and evaluating it according to a
    guiding principle
  • Organizing our review into useful, informative
    sections that present themes or identify trends
  • http//www.utoronto.ca/writing/litrev.html

35
Summary
  • The literature review
  • Establishes a specific research context for the
    writers own work (it gives background)
  • Reviews and evaluates previous work by other
    researchers
  • This evaluation
  • provides evidence that the writers work has
    merit
  • creates a space for the writers own research
  • It may be part of the introductionas you have
    just seenit may be incorporated into the whole
    text

36
Text Samples and ExercisesThe Literature Review
37
  • Work with the introduction to Teaching critical
    thinking in social work practice courses, pages
    75-77 and answer the following questions
  • Have the sources been organized according to a
    guiding concept, such as research objective,
    thesis, or problem and or issue?
  • Is there any critical appraisal of sources ?
  • What is the purpose of the literature review in
    this article?
  • Green organization
  • Red synthesis of sources according to guiding
    concepts
  • Blue evaluation

38
  • Is there any critical appraisal in this text
    sample by D. Mandell (2005)?
  • In the debate over psychological factors as
    antecedents vs. results of the disease
    (Wallerstedt Bellanti, 1998), results and
    patterns of complex interactions seem to be
    gaining ground. In general, the emphasis appears
    to have shifted towards examining the impact of
    the illness on the child and family in the
    context of available supports and how these and
    other psychosocial factors affect coping and
    thereby the illness (See Gustafsson, Bjorksten
    Kjellman, 1994 Patterson McGrath, 2000
    Rathner Messner, 1992 Shasha, 1999).
  • A recent search of the literature across
    disciplines yielded only a few published studies
    on the psychosocial aspects of anaphylaxis. One
    is a case study indicating that a diagnosis of
    peanut allergy in a child may be associated with
    psychological problems and exploring how
    psychologists can intervene (Masia, Mullen
    Scotti, 1998). Although a number of important
    issues are identified, it is based on the case of
    a 7 year-old boy anaphylactic to peanuts, whose
    mother had continued to keep peanuts in the home.
    Portraying the childs extreme fears as an
    indication of psychopathology warrants some
    skepticism, since nuts in the house posed a
    constant and real danger to him.
  • D. Mandell (2005)

39
  • In this text the writer integrates the
    interpretation and evaluation of the studies
    cited
  • Organization, organizing concept or
    classification, evaluation,
  • In the debate over psychological factors as
    antecedents vs. results of the disease
    (Wallerstedt Bellanti, 1998), results and
    patterns of complex interactions seem to be
    gaining ground. In general, the emphasis appears
    to have shifted towards examining the impact of
    the illness on the child and family in the
    context of available supports and how these and
    other psychosocial factors affect coping and
    thereby the illness (See Gustafsson, Bjorksten
    Kjellman, 1994 Patterson McGrath, 2000
    Rathner Messner, 1992 Shasha, 1999).
  • A recent search of the literature across
    disciplines yielded only a few published studies
    on the psychosocial aspects of anaphylaxis. One
    is a case study indicating that a diagnosis of
    peanut allergy in a child may be associated with
    psychological problems and exploring how
    psychologists can intervene (Masia, Mullen
    Scotti, 1998). Although a number of important
    issues are identified, it is based on the case of
    a 7 year-old boy anaphylactic to peanuts, whose
    mother had continued to keep peanuts in the home.
    Portraying the childs extreme fears as an
    indication of psychopathology warrants some
    skepticism, since nuts in the house posed a
    constant and real danger to him (Mandell, 2005).
  • How do you respond to the text when critical
    appraisal is added?

40
Synthesis Evaluation Voice
  • The writer brings ideas together and synthesizes
    them
  • Evaluates the texts reviewed, showing strengths
    and weaknesses
  • The evaluation gives voice to the writers
    understanding of the theoretical position shaping
    the research in the literature review
  • The writers credibility in the eyes of the
    reader is tied to how reasonable and logical his
    or her voice appears to be

41
  • For what type of assignment(s) would it not be
    appropriate to omit an evaluative component from
    your literature review?

42
Evaluation is needed when
  • The assignment asks for critical appraisal or
    analysis
  • The topic (eg., a policy, practice model) is
    controversial.
  • You are presenting to the class and are expected
    to cover strengths and limitations of a given
    policy, model, etc.
  • There is a historical or developmental context in
    which the topic needs to be placed
  • Articulating the theoretical or ideological
    underpinnings of various articles will help you
    the reader understand where the literature is
    coming from

43
Voice is an essential feature of good academic
writing
  • The writing is voiced
  • As readers we sense the presence of a writer
    writing
  • Addressing us
  • Taking responsibility for our understanding
  • Ushering us through the text
  • Voice does not rely on 1st or 2nd person
    address
  • The writer often uses cues and transitions to
    maintain and direct attention Gottschalk and
    Hjortshoj (10)

44
Exercise 4 The organizing principle of the
literature review
  • Find the organizing principle in the next three
    paragraphs from Bob Peases Deconstructing
    masculinityreconstructing men

45
  • Exercise 4
  • Please find examples of organization,
    classification, evaluation,
  • Most of the literature on men and masculinity
    focuses on middle-class professionals and
    managers and the lives of these men are often
    taken as representative of masculinity per se.
    But power is not shared equally among men and
    mens class locations influence the nature of
    their dominance over women.
  • In addition to the class bias in the men and
    masculinity literature, there is also a
    presumption of whiteness in discussions of mens
    lives. To address this imbalance, we have seen in
    recent years, in North America and the United
    Kingdom, accounts of masculinity written from the
    perspective of black men and men of colour
    (Gordon, 1993 Marcia Julien, 1988
    Staples,1989).
  • Furthermore, very few books written by
    heterosexual men have seriously attempted to come
    to grips with gay liberation arguments. Moreover,
    most do not acknowledge that mainstream
    masculinity is heterosexual masculinity. From the
    gay viewpoint, heterosexual masculinity is
    privileged masculinity that is created and
    maintained by homophobia at the expense of
    homosexual men and women (Nierenberg, 1987,
    p.132).
  • Section of a literature review from Bob Peases
    article Deconstructing masculinityreconstructing
    men

46
  • Please find examples of organization,
    classification, evaluation,
  • Most of the literature on men and masculinity
    focuses on middle-class professionals and
    managers and the lives of these men are often
    taken as representative of masculinity per se.
    But power is not shared equally among men and
    mens class locations influence the nature of
    their dominance over women.
  • In addition to the class bias in the men and
    masculinity literature, there is also a
    presumption of whiteness in discussions of mens
    lives. To address this imbalance, we have seen in
    recent years, in North America and the United
    Kingdom, accounts of masculinity written from the
    perspective of black men and men of colour
    (Staples 1989 Gordon 1993 Marcia and Julien
    1988).
  • Furthermore, very few books written by
    heterosexual men have seriously attempted to come
    to grips with gay liberation arguments. Moreover,
    most do not acknowledge that mainstream
    masculinity is heterosexual masculinity. From the
    gay viewpoint, heterosexual masculinity is
    privileged masculinity that is created and
    maintained by homophobia at the expense of
    homosexual men and women (Nierenberg 1987 132).
  • What effect/impact does the sequence of ideas
    have on the reader?

47
Personal Reflection in Academic Writing
  • First person
  • Subjective voice
  • Subjective stance gives permission to include
    personal responses, ideas, questions,
    uncertainty, conflicts, struggles
  • D. Mandell

48
Examples of personal and critical reflection in
social work writing
  • Response to written material
  • Experience of a relationship, event or process
  • Countertransference reactions to/
  • feelings about clients, supervisor, group,
    etc.
  • Critical reflection on practice
  • Social identity/location, values, beliefs
  • Processing of an idea, struggle, or question
  • Locating oneself as researcher

49
Elements to Consider
  • Be mindful of purpose/ focus
  • Be mindful of boundaries
  • Relate reflection to context of course/assignment
  • Critical reflection leads one forward by opening
    up possibilities, uncovering that which was
    previously unrecognized

50
Purpose or Focus
  • Why am I doing this?
  • What am I supposed to learn from this process?
  • What am I trying to figure out?

51
Boundaries
  • Do I trust my reader?
  • How much do I need to spill in order to achieve
    the designated purpose of this reflection?
  • Do I need to do some preliminary or raw
    reflection and then summarize or analyze that for
    the assignment to be submitted?
  • How are my personal/critical reflections linked
    to larger questions?

52
Context
  • Do the readings/lectures/discussions of this or
    another course help me to focus or process this
    reflection?
  • Do they help me understand or conceptualize any
    issues raised by these reflections?
  • Do they help me with ideas about where to go from
    here in order to address issues or concerns,
    challenges?
  • In the given context, do they make my values,
    interests and biases transparent?

53
Sample Reflections
  • ASSIGNMENT A
  • Summarize and analyze the log of personal
    reflections you have been keeping in response to
    course material.

54
Response 1 to Assignment A  I
have been making entries in my log since the
first day of class. I wrote two things at the
time I thought the course was too touchy-feely
and would turn out to be a waste of time, and I
also wrote that I was afraid I would be forced to
reveal myself publicly in ways that I normally
avoid. What I wrote on that first day was We
are expected to think a lot about our mistakes
and difficulties but I dont really see the value
in talking about them openly in class. This
seems like a waste of time. Im more interested
in learning about how to get it right than in
dwelling on what went wrong. Most of my entries
throughout the term have been along these lines.
As a former Psychology student with an A
standing, I wanted to spend more time on theory
and less on personal feelings.
55
  • On a couple of occasions, I observed that I both
    envied
  • and resented those students who seemed
    comfortable
  • talking openly about their doubts and moments of
    self-
  • recognition, especially when they were upset
    about what
  • came out. For example, when one of my classmates
  • ended up in tears after a presentation on her
    work with a
  • client who made her wonder whether she ought to
    be in
  • social work at all, I wrote I fail to see the
    purpose in
  • asking someone to humiliate themselves in front
    of their
  • peers. It seems to me her confidence has been
  • undermined and its not at all clear what
    benefit there
  • might have been in her experience around this.

56
  • I became more fearful rather than less, because I
    dont
  • want to be as exposed as some people have been,
  • especially when they get a negative reaction from
    the
  • teacher or other students. I have felt very
    sorry for
  • people in that position, though I havent seen it
    happen
  • very often. Im not sure why Im so afraid, but
    it doesnt
  • feel safe to do what we are being encouraged to
    do. Part
  • of me would like to be less afraid so I could
    feel like Im
  • learning, as some students do, but Im not sure
    what to do
  • about it. This is just my personality, I think.
    Im a very
  • private person. Surely there is room for private
    people in
  • social work!

57
Comments
  • Reflection is not of a critical nature, i.e.
    does not question or seek to understand that
    which is not already obvious.
  • Student has not stepped back to look at
    patterns or identify themes.
  • Student does not seem to notice contradictions,
    thus missing important cues for critical
    reflection.
  • Student tends to shut down the reflection
    process rather than push it towards greater
    understanding. Questions whether implicit or
    explicit -- are dead-ended rather than explored.
  • There is no attempt to put reflections in the
    context of the course or to connect them with
    concepts encountered in the course or the
    program.
  • Personal reflection is not linked to
    professional role.
  •  
  • Reflection done this way is an unproductive
    exercise.

58
Response 2 to Assignment A My
first entry was a reaction to the focus and
requirements of this course. My thoughts at the
time were divided between a contemptuous attitude
towards what I felt would be a touchy-feely
course and fear that I would be forced to reveal
myself publicly. As the term progressed, I
found my log entries remained split along these
lines. As a former Psychology student with an A
standing, I wanted more intellectual rigour and
less soul-searching, less discussion of feelings
and debates about personal values. On a couple
of occasions, I observed that I both envied and
resented those students who seemed comfortable
talking openly about their doubts and moments
of self-recognition, especially when they found
parts of themselves they didnt like.
Gradually, my comments focused more on my fear
and less on my disdain.
59
  • I have looked carefully at these fearful entries
    in an effort to understand the nature of my
    reaction. It has been difficult for me to grasp
    what is behind this fear, since I usually
    experienced the instructor and the other students
    as careful and supportive in responding to
    peoples revelations. I think it has something
    to do with being outside of my areas of strength
    (intellectual pursuits), and in a zone where
    something could happen that would make me feel
    bad about myself. I have noticed that on the few
    occasions where I felt another student was
    challenged or silenced in some way by a teacher
    or classmate, I have felt very sorry for that
    person.

60
  • We have talked and read a lot in a couple of
    courses about the concept of resistance and I
    wonder if that is what Im experiencing. Several
    articles and professors have talked about
    conceptualizing resistance as acting
    (appropriately) to protect oneself from a
    perceived threat. This has got me thinking about
    whether I might be doing that and if so, what is
    the nature of the threat I might be protecting
    myself from? The other questions I ask myself
    are Am I wise to be protecting myself, or am I
    afraid of something that is important for me to
    be open to? Why do some students not seem to
    feel self-protective and is that a good thing or
    a bad thing?

61
  • As I write this, I see another pattern
    ambivalence. My feelings and understanding have
    been divided in one way or another all along. I
    am ambivalent about opening up around certain
    ideas and ways of revealing myself, so I am
    protecting myself from exposure and personal
    challenge. I protected myself at the beginning
    by being contemptuous of the course, and now I am
    doing it by holding back. I wonder if my feeling
    sorry for those students I think of as injured is
    an example of identification that we have
    learned about. On the other hand, perhaps I am
    very sensitive to how people use their power over
    each other. This has been a theme in most of my
    courses and is something were expected to become
    attuned to.

62
  • What does it mean for my practice as a social
    worker if I have these fears and protective
    mechanisms? Why is identification problematic?
    Is it different from empathy in some way I dont
    understand? I need to continue to monitor my own
    responses and go back to the readings on
    resistance and identification to see how my
    responses might affect my practice or my
    engagement in supervision. These are the areas
    that seem to be the primary focus in our use of
    self discussions in class.

63
  • I also want to figure out whether there is
    anything about the way the instructor and the
    students handle this whole issue of critical
    self-reflection that might be legitimately
    bothering me. Maybe I am responding to something
    that its reasonable to want to protect myself
    and others from. Maybe I can find something in
    one of our course readers on how to make this
    kind of determination. It might also be helpful
    to take the risk of talking about this with
    students I respect who seem to be more
    comfortable in this class than I am. I suppose
    that by writing about it here, I have already
    begun to discuss it with my instructor and with
    myself.

64
Comments
  • Student moves back and forth between specifics
    and themes, making connections.
  • Gaps and contradictions are noticed and
    questioned, used to identify learning
    opportunities.
  • Concepts and course material are drawn upon in
    exploring questions.
  • Personal reflection is linked to professional
    functioning and intellectual understanding
  • Student is willing to stay in the uncomfortable
    dont know zone rather than foreclose the
    pursuit of difficult questions and paradoxes.

65
Assignment B
  • Discuss how your identity as a researcher has
    influenced your approach to the research question
    and the study
  • C. Cait

66
Response 1 to Assignment B I have
chosen at this point in time to study the impact
and influence that the death of an adolescent
girls parent has on her evolving identity
development. After accidentally (perhaps)
picking up an article on mourning for my family
theory course, I realized that after all these
years I really did find this area fascinating. I
have had a personal experience of loss and
because of this Im interested in this area. It
will be important to maintain the focus of the
research and the uniqueness of the voices of the
young people. I must not cloud their essence by
trying to create themes in the data.  
67
  • Why am I interested in looking at children and
    adolescents? One of the most difficult and also
    the most motivating pieces of clinical social
    work with adolescents is my belief in the ability
    of children and adolescents to grow from and
    transcend some very difficult experiences.
    Working with children and adolescents is so
    important for me because I believe that there is
    still time for them to move beyond their
    difficult experiences. It will be extremely
    important, especially when doing research on
    children and adolescents, not to colour or mask
    their words in an attempt to draw conclusions and
    create themes in the data.
  •  

68
Comments
  • What is it that this student finds interesting
    about death and what about their personal
    experience has increased their interest?
  • No clear statement about reasons for choosing the
    topic.
  • The student mentions personal experience with
    loss, then says it will be important to maintain
    the focus There is no link established
    explicitly between these ideas.
  • In paragraph 2 there is no connection made
    between looking at identity development and
    choosing to study adolescents.
  • Adolescents might be able to transcend difficult
    experiences however, no direct connection has
    been made between this and the research area.
  • The student ends by repeating the importance of
    not masking the adolescents words, but again
    does not speak to why this might be a problem.

69
  • Overall, the student does not seem to have
    reflected on how her personal experience can
    influence the research. She has not stated why
    her personal experience and clinical experience
    have led her to study the specific area.
  •  

70
Response 2 to Assignment B I have chosen to
explore the impact and influence that an
adolescent girls parents death has on her
evolving identity development. I have arrived at
this topic through a review of the literature and
my clinical, research and personal
experience. Awareness of the need to do this
research has come from an extensive review of the
psychological, social, practice theoretical and
research literature on children and adolescents
who have had a parent die. While there is a
great deal of information on child bereavement,
there is less information on adolescent
bereavement and still less specifically focusing
on identity development and adolescent
bereavement (Balk, 1983).  
71
  • Through my clinical work (individual and group)
    with parentally bereaved adolescents and
    college-age students it has become evident that
    the death and continuing attachment to the
    deceased parent plays a very distinct role in how
    the adolescent defines herself, the activities in
    which she is involved and the vocation that she
    chooses.
  • Through my work with three other researchers
    (Silverman, Baker, Cait Boener, 2001) looking
    at risk factors for children and adolescents,
    whose parent had died, we discovered how children
    and adolescents identified with the deceased
    parents and in some cases actually took on some
    of their characteristics. Becoming aware of this
    connection also stimulated my thinking in making
    the link between identity development and death
    of a parent and the need for further exploration
    in this area.

72
  • My personal knowledge and experience have also
    informed my research choice. I know from my own
    experience that my fathers death and my grief
    was ongoing, not in a consuming manner, but as a
    presence. I know that my fathers death has
    influenced my friendships, intimate
    relationships, career choice and worldview, in
    essence myself. I want to know if this is the
    case for others. My own experience and learning
    how to sit with the pain in my life will allow me
    to sit with the pain in others lives as I do my
    interviews. Clinchy ( ) names this as
    connected knowing. Connected knowing recognizes
    the importance of personal experience informing
    how we think and what we know.

73
  • Elbow talks about two different ways of
    approaching a problem. One way is the believing
    game. In the believing game, personal
    experience and feelings are valued as a reference
    point and a respected way of making meaning and
    learning (p.175).
  • The other way of approaching a problem is the
    doubting game. The doubting game asks people to
    prove their propositions and to look for
    information that might challenge the information
    being proposed. In my own research it will be
    important to move between both the doubting game
    and believing game. It will be important for me
    to test out my findings in a variety of ways, not
    only by comparing it to my own experience.

74
Comments
  • In this example the student succinctly expresses
    how she has arrived at the research topic.
  • She then moves methodically to provide evidence
    for her initial statement.
  • She makes the connection between her clinical
    work and specific choice of research topic death
    and identity development.
  • She reflects on how her research activities led
    to the research topic.
  • This student reflects on how her personal
    experience has influenced her research choice and
    the research itself, and the importance of
    testing findings in a variety of ways.

75
References
  • Booth, W. C., Colomb, G., G., Williams, J., M.
    (1995). The craft of
  • research. Chicago The University of Chicago
    Press.
  • Elbow, P. (2002). Reflections on academic
    discourse How it relates to freshmen and
    colleagues (1991). In C. R. Russel R. L.
    McDonald (Eds.), Teaching writing (pp. 95-120).
    Carbondale and Edwardsville Southern Illinois
    University Press.
  • Gottschalk, K. Hjortshoj, K. (2004). The
    elements of teaching writing A resource for
    instructors in all disciplines. Boston
    Bedford/St. Martins.
  • Mandell, D., Curtis, R., Gold, M. Hardie, S.
    (In press). Anaphylaxis How do you live with
    it? Information and support needs for family
    coping. Health Social Work, 30 (4).
  • Mumm, A. M. Kersting, R. C. (1997). Teaching
    critical thinking in social work practice
    courses. Journal of Social Work Education, 33,
    75-84.
  • Payne, M. (1997) Modern social work theory. 2nd.
    ed. Illinois Lyceum.
  • Pease, B. (1999). Deconstructing
    masculinitydeconstructing men. Dealing with
    diversity and difference. In B. Pease J. Fook.
    (Eds.), Transforming social work practice (pp.
    97-109). Australia Allen Unwin.
  • Swales, J. (1990). Genre analysis English in
    academic and research settings. New York
    Cambridge University Press.

76
  • Reviewing items of previous research
  • In an important series of studies, Carnock and
    Hardiker (1979 Hardiker, 1981) showed that in
    several English settings workers used theoretical
    knowledge inexplicitly, although this may be
    subject to the criticism that such knowledge may
    have been gained from general rather than
    professional sources. Also, Carew (1979) argues
    that we cannot describe inexplicit knowledge as
    organized theoretical understanding. Cocozzelli
    and Constable (1985), in an American study,
    confirmed that general approaches to clients
    rather than explicit use of theory is the most
    common relationship between theory and practice.
    They found that a theoretical preference for
    technique (active versus person-oriented) and for
    defining problems (as stemming from the
    individual or from society) correlated with
    practice actions. Olssen (1993), in a Swedish
    study, got 88 social workers to define eight
    naïve theories and six naïve treatment
    theories which they used. The explanatory
    theories were lack of love, deficient upbringing,
    trauma, stress, lack of inner resources,
    biological constitution, material shortcomings
    and a mixture of these factors. The naïve
    treatment models were catharsis, re-education,
    advocacy, compensation working through
    problems and practical support.
  • Hearn (1982) notes that one difficulty is
    defining what theory and practice mean. Often
    they are caricatured so that theory means what is
    learned on courses and practice is what is done
    in agencies, and Sibeon (1982) suggests that one
    model of the relationship is that of an academic
    division of labour between colleges and the
    field. Barbou (1984) confirms this problem and
    proposes three different meanings of
    theory..(Payne, 1997, p.47).
  • Green organization
  • Red synthesis of sources according to guiding
    concepts
  • Blue evaluationin this excerpt there is no
    evaluation by the writer

77
  • The evidence for a degree of eclecticism exists
    in research studies of social workers. Jayaratne
    (1978) surveyed 267 American social workers in
    the mid-1970s and found that there was a primary
    allegiance to psychodynamic approaches, but that
    eclecticism is the predominant mode of
    intervention (p.626). Research by Kolevson and
    Maykranz (1982), covering nearly 700 American
    practitioners and teachers, shows that they have
    very weak allegiances to specific theories they
    speculate that this may be because of poor
    theoretical grounding in their training. British
    studies (such as DHSS, 1978 134-6) comment on
    the pronounced lack of theory in the approach of
    many workers surveyed. However, there is also
    evidence (for example, Curnock and Hardiker,
    1979) of inexplicit or naïve (Olssen, 1993) use
    of theory (Payne,1997, p.54).
  • Here the writer leads into the paragraph by
    stating his/her evaluation and then presents the
    evidence
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