Critical Thinking: Building on Student Strengths in Social Work Pedagogy

By Rosalie Otters.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Educational Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Social work is a discipline that moves beyond national boundaries, seeking to encourage global interdependence and social justice. Student education must mirror the broad mission mandate for such change. Globally, the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) promotes pedagogies that educate students toward global social leadership. In the United States, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) has developed ten social work competencies through its Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards. One competency is especially relevant to the ability to understand and advocate for global interdependence and human justice: “Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments” (Educational Policy 2.1.3). Critical thinking requires a commitment to new and imagined alternative perspectives and integrates them into how we think and respond to our environment. Central to critical thinking is the larger commitment of participating in a democratic society. Critical thinking is the pathway to the other nine CSWE competencies, which include applying social work ethical principles, identifying as a professional social worker, and advancing human rights as well as social and economic justice. Social work pedagogy must look at critical thinking as the cornerstone to the other competencies students must master for a social work degree, whether at the Bachelor or Master degree level. Social work educators themselves must seek to develop a critical insight to the student learning process. Students learn in a variety of ways, often from instructor and peer modeling rather than lecture or other didactic instruction. The strengths perspective for client engagement should be used to engage students. This paper will describe and emphasize the theoretical implications of critical thinking for social work as a global discipline. Student strengths must be developed as they become social work critical thinkers and advocates.

Keywords: Social Work Pedagogy, Critical Thinking, Strengths Perspective, Global Interdependence, Student Learning

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Educational Studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.1-11. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 162.230KB).

Dr. Rosalie Otters

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Dr. Rosalie Otters, Ph.D., MSW, D.Min., is an Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the School of Social Work. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate social work and gerontology students. Her research interests include life course development and aging policy as well as the history of early social work, especially that of Jane Addams and Hull House. She is also interested in how students learn and develop critical thinking skills.