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Title: Improving instruction in social work : two evaluation paradigms
Author: Gordon, K. H.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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This dissertation examines and contrasts two dissimilar investigative paradigms which may be applied to the systematic evaluation of instructional sequences for social workers. The primary orientation toward evaluation aimed at generating improvements in instruction, systematic evaluation is seen to be a necessary process in rational decision-making. Such investigations are always guided by a research paradigm of some sort. The choice of paradigms, conscious or not, largely determines the sorts of information produced. An overview of the evaluation of instructional programs includes: definitional elements, distinctions, and issues; purposes and foci associated with such activity; information sources and media of data generation; and aspects of instrument and information quality. Review of the relevant literature discovers a dearth of published evaluation studies in social work education. It further indicates that one orientation to evaluation research has dominated the scene. The two paradigms under study are described and contrasted in theoretical terms. Critical comments and arguments between paradigmic proponents are documented. The "classico-experimental" orientation is seen to stress assessments of effectiveness achieved through operational definition of instructional objectives and application of experimental or quasi-experimental procedures. Typically, the resulting information is quantified. Emphasis is on measurement and prediction. In contrast, the "socio-anthropological" approach is perceived to be more concerned with exploration, description, and interpretation of the instructional service as a whole. Quantification is not necessarily prized and a wide variety of data gathering media are used to progressively focus on significant phenomena which emerge during the course of the study. Emphasis is on tailoring investigative activity to information requirements and characteristics of the milieu examined. These paradigms are applied in evaluating two very similar short courses for social workers, and reports are presented. Attending to experience in those studies, the application and the paradigms are further contrasted. Observations on differential reliability, validity, generalizability, and utility are noted. A cursory exploration of student rating scales, as evaluation devices, is also included. Tentative conclusions with regard to paradigmic strengths, weaknesses, and appropriate applications are drawn. Suggested practice principles are itemized and the feasibility of paradigmic synergy is examined. It is concluded that, while a true amalgamation is not feasible, comprehensive evaluation studies should draw upon the strengths of both paradigms. Some implications for instructional planning and a new approach to curriculum revision in social work education are explored. A number of major requirements for further research are outlined. Though selective, the Bibliography documents numerous sources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available