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Social Workers Can e-Learn: Evaluation of a Pilot Post-Qualifying e-Learning Course in Research Methods and Critical Appraisal Skills for Social Workers

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Publication details

JournalSocial Work Education
DatePublished - 2010
Pages (from-to)48-66
Original languageEnglish


Social workers are increasingly encouraged to become research minded and integrate research findings into their practice. However, there is a paucity of high-quality accessible training for social workers in research methods and critical appraisal skills. We developed an e-learning version of an MSc degree module to widen access to this kind of training and this paper presents the findings of an evaluation of a pilot of this e-learning course. To test the effectiveness of the e-learning environment in delivering research methods and critical appraisal skills training to social workers in comparison with a classroom group, we adopted a mixed methods approach which comprised concept mapping exercises, semi-structured interviews and evaluation questionnaires administered to the e-learners (n = 3) and a classroom comparison group (n = 12). Our analysis of the students' concept maps revealed no conspicuous differences in the quality of student knowledge changes that were a consequence of the mode of teaching delivery. The e-learners met the learning outcomes of the module to the same extent as the classroom group and were highly satisfied with the mode of delivery. Although this was a small pilot, it provided tentative evidence that social workers can use e-learning to develop evidence-based practice skills

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