Research aims and objectives

This research aims to understand student’s experiences of using reflective journaling during a social work term as a part of an online and/or blended learning approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our project will explore student perceptions of journaling as a teaching and learning strategy that facilitates (or not) transformative learning and the ways in which journaling can help to integrate student’s current life experiences with that of their social work education. The sample will consist of students from seven countries: Canada, India, Israel, Spain, Sweden, U.K. and U.S.A.

We embrace a global definition of social work as outlined by the IASSW.  

We are mindful that social work can mean different things depending on the country and culture in which it is practised, taught and studied. Most students in our research sample are studying social work undergraduate courses in the partnering countries. In India’s case, we have students doing a Masters Program in Development Studies and Social Policy. These students will be using  Journaling in their course-related to topics relevant to social work practitioners and researchers.

Research question

  1. How does the use of reflective journaling method with social work students promote transformative learning in the blended and/or online setting during COVID-19?
  2. How does the use of reflective journaling help social work students frame their life experiences during COVID-19?
  3. In what ways does the practice of reflective journal help to foster the student’s professional identity and development as an emerging practitioner?

Research Methodology

We propose a mixed methods design, specifically, Sequential Explanatory, as phase two is informed by phase one (Creswell & Clarke, 2018).

Phase 1: Student perceptions of transformative learning.

This phase aims to understand the ways in which students perceive their own perspective transformation following the use of journaling pedagogy in a blended learning environment during times of a pandemic. Phase 1 uses survey data with social work students across the participating seven countries and within specific social work courses. The survey is informed by Mezirow’s theory of perspective transformation and based on a model that captures the process of transformation (Damianakis et al., 2019). The aim of this phase is to understand the student’s perspective on their process of transformation (or not). Data in this phase will be analysed using SPSS software.

Phase 2: Following analysis of the quantitative data, we will hold a transnational focus group for students who participated in phase one. The student focus group will help to clarify the results of the survey by providing greater depth and detail of the process of transformative learning through the use of journaling during the times of a pandemic and also regarding their views on the usefulness of the method to help integrate life experiences to their social work education (Braun & Clarke, 2013).The transnational focus group will also be an opportunity for students from the participating countries to meet fellow students.