Social care placement-based learning : the incorporation story /
Byrne, Elizabeth Anne (Lillian)
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This study provides contextual knowledge about how social care work students’ professional ontology can be supported during placement. Relativist ontology and social phenomenological epistemology allows placement to be considered a key site of professional socialisation. The study had the objectives of identifying placement-based symbolic growth experiences participants associated with their sense of becoming a social care worker; ascertaining social infrastructures and pedagogical activities which ‘hooked’ or ‘rebuffed’ participants’ sense of becoming a social care worker, and infer socio-cultural narratives held within individual experiences of ontological change. Following first and second placement, 13 social care work newcomers drawn for four Irish social care work education programmes participated in socio-linguistic interviews. In doing so, they provided a natives’ ideocratic insight into moments when they gained an awareness of becoming (or needing to become a) social care worker. Narrative analysis of becoming stories found disrupting experiences were essential to orientating participants toward thinking about social care practice or thinking about how their personal biographies fit with social care work. The study concludes that immersion in social care work practice, bounded agency, and support by occupational luminaries are necessary for placement to incorporate students into social care work. The main recommendation from the research is to supplement the dominant constructivist view of placement with an anthropological view and consider placement as a site of socio-cultural learning and human production. Two future research studies are recommended, with one study testing the validity of narrative typologies inferred in this study, and the other developing a deeper understanding of how social care work (re)generates itself through its human production practices.
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