Schaub, J., Dalrymple, R. Surveillance and silence: New considerations in assessing difficult social work placements (2013) Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 11 (3), pp. 79-97.
Studies to date have highlighted a number of key factors in the assessment of difficult social work placements including the need for adequate professional formation; communication; the changing social work education framework; and the influence of the wider social work context. Factors less widely examined are the perceptions of some practice educators that the assessment of placement students operates in a wider context of surveillance and scrutiny by a range of stakeholders. We argue that such perceptions of surveillance can cause a discursive anxiety for practice educators and can inhibit key developmental conversations between assessor and student. Drawing on interviews with ten practice educators, we examine the tendency of practice educators reflecting on a failed placement to rehearse or even enact those key developmental conversations post hoc, broaching previously unstated or tacit aspects of the placement experience. We argue for the need to create a safe discursive space for these conversations to take place in situ during the challenging placement and suggest that a diminution in perceptions of surveillance and enhanced outcomes for students and practice educators will result.
anxiety; discursive spaces; failing students; Foucault; practice educators; surveillance