Adult learning styles: implications for practice teaching in social work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on the current aspiration to further the process of continuing professional development in social work. It contends that knowledge from the field of adult learning theory may be helpful in sign-posting some tangible ways forward here. The particular emphasis is on critically assessing the usefulness of identifying learning styles as indicators of preferred ways of learning. Knowledge of learning styles is explored as one way of promoting students' learning on practice placements. A small-scale qualitative research study with a group of practice teachers and their students is presented as a vehicle for exploring this new terrain in social work. The findings of this research build on key themes identified by the current literature in this area. The author's findings suggest that information about learning styles has direct practical application in the social work practice teaching arena. The data points to the potential value of using such information to guide students' learning on practice placements and has relevance to considerations of their continuing professional development. Suggestions are put forward to highlight how practice teaching and Diploma in Social Work programmes could facilitate this process. The paper stresses the over-riding need to view students as actors in a broader social context, however, and highlights how information regarding learning styles needs to be utilised in this context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-626
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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