Components of the Context Fostering a Transformative Learning in the Course of Social Work Education. The case of a Socially Engaged Research

Anita Gulczyńska

Anita Gulczyńska works at Department of Social Pedagogy and Social Rehabilitation, University of Łódź, Poland. Her research focuses on community work, spatial determinants of urban poverty and social exclusion, social work and social pedagogy in urban regeneration, youth work and empowering social work practice and research. Her usual methods of research are qualitative research and participatory action research (PAR).

OBJECTIVES: As transformative learning (TL) is today considered an important component of social work education and practice (e.g., Dempsey, Halton, Murphy, 2001), the article seeks the possibilities of TL incorporation in the social work curriculum. The author argues that individual projects of socially engaged qualitative research could be considered as one of them and reconstructs the components of this research that fostered a researcher’s fundamental cognitive transformation. THEORETICAL BASE: The theoretical reference is the concept of Transformative Learning by Mezirow (Mezirow, 1978; 2000; 2009). METHODS: The reconstruction of socially engaged study properties fostering TL was induced by autobiographical reflection rooted in data from the field diary and notes of the research, in the course of which the crucial researcher’s identity transformation had happened and was advanced. OUTCOMES: Components of a socially engaged research context fostering TL in a social work researcher were uncovered and described. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: The traits of research context fostering TL reconstructed in the paper could be translated and incorporated into social work education contexts, including the methods of supervision of social work students’ individual research (B.A, M.A) research projects.

social work education, transformative learning (TL), socially engaged research, epistemological participation, critical reflection, empowerment, advocacy

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