Learning pattern of social work students: a longitudinal study

Ching Man Lam*, Siu Ming To, Wallace Chi Ho Chan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Research on learning patterns of social work students is scare. This longitudinal study addresses this issue by employing mixed methods of quantitative and qualitative study design to understand the learning pattern of students throughout their undergraduate social work studies. Six rounds of quantitative data collected by structured questionnaires and four rounds of qualitative data collected by focus group interviews have been conducted at an interval of every 6 months to track the learning pattern and to evaluate the continuous impacts of social work education on students. Results indicate that although students’ evaluation on the curriculum was positive and with significant difference in mean scores, paired sample t-tests found no significant difference between time 1 and 6 of all outcome variables. With regard to students’ change in attitude, acquisition of knowledge and skills, results indicate a ‘U-shape’ trend and a fluctuating learning pattern with a rebound in different outcome variables toward the end of the three-year study. Qualitative data echoes the findings and reveals that students go through the confused freshman stage, to disillusioned in practicum and finally with enriching experience upon graduation. The paper discusses meanings and implications of student learning pattern to social work education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-65
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number1
Early online date21 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

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