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Researching admissions: what can we learn about selection of applicants from findings about students in difficulty on a social work programme?

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-08, 06:43 authored by Cath Holmstrom, Imogen Taylor
This paper explores the findings of a small-scale empirical study of social work admissions data. It is designed to be exploratory in nature and used to illustrate key themes discussed in a previous paper. The study has been designed as a comparator to a Canadian study with the aim of building upon their findings within the current UK/England context. The research examines the relationship between applicants' pre-admission information and their subsequent performance on the programme. Data relating to a sample of students and available at the pre-admission stage (from application forms and interviewer report forms) and data relating to students on the programme who had been identified (by faculty) as having difficulties in one or more areas of their learning, are compared to a sample of those not identified as having experienced such problems. The two groups (total sample size = 150) are drawn from one university in southern England and comprise students from both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Methodological issues are critically analysed and findings are explored and compared to that of the Canadian study. Key themes regarding the seemingly complex relationships between performance on the programme and academic background, extent of previous experience and a range of other factors are discussed and examined in relation to other available literature. Implications are explored in relation to current practice and development needs within social work education.


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  • Published


Social Work Education









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  • Social Work and Social Care Publications


Peer reviewed: `an interesting study that raises key questions about selection and recruitment, whilst giving some direction for any future enquiry'. Explores findings of an exploratory study, combining qualitative and quantitative approaches, illustrating key themes discussed in a linked paper (Mapping the terrain). Designed as a comparator to a Canadian study (Pelech et al, 1999) following correspondence and consultation with Canadian researchers. Rigourous attention paid to methodological issues emerging from Canadian and American research into admissions issues. Presented in invited seminar, University of Ulster, Dept of Social Sciences, 2007 resulting in an expression of interest in a third comparator study.

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