Teaching & Learning themes
Focus on: Peer teaching

Previous / Next

How can 'values' be taught within a programme leading to a professional qualification?

Rachel Fyson (School of Sociology & Social Policy).

Degree programmes leading to professional qualification often aim to combine academic and practice learning with inculcating a particular set of professional values. This is especially true of social work, as the profession places a strong emphasis upon adherence to 'social work values' espoused by governing bodies including the GSCC (General Social Care Council) and BASW (British Association of Social Workers). However, values - which may be exhibited in practice as the actions and decisions arising from a particular set of opinions, attitudes and beliefs – may be difficult to pin down, let alone teach.

This study explored the extent to which final year MA Social Work students perceived their values to have been changed by the teaching programme. More particularly, it sought to discover both whether students' values had changed and which learning opportunities had contributed most to any change.

The research involved two phases:

  • Final year MA students were asked to complete a 5-point Likert scale questionnaire to rank the change in their values, attitudes or beliefs about particular social groups or social issues (e.g. ethnic minorities; poverty) since starting the programme, where 0=no change and 4=completely changed. 46 completed questionnaires were received.
  • The questionnaire invited respondents to volunteer to participate in focus groups, to discuss factors which had influenced the change – or lack of change – in their values. Four focus groups were held, involving 15 students. The focus groups were recorded and transcribed in full to enable a thematic analysis of content.

Quantitative analysis of questionnaire data showed an average change across all topics of 1.36 for the student group as a whole and 0.93 amongst those who volunteered for the focus groups. However, both the whole group and the focus group showed similar patterns of change, with the greatest measurable changes relating to older people (whole=2.04; focus=0.89), and the least change in relation to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (whole=0.74; focus=0.28).

Thematic analysis of focus group data revealed several key issues: the relationship between personal and professional values; the impact of both explicit and implicit teaching of values; and the importance of practice learning opportunities in concretising values. Overall, students identified peer learning, through both structured discussion within classroom settings and informal discussion after classes, as having the greatest impact upon values. However, there were notable individual differences in preferred teaching methods.

These findings suggest that a broad range of teaching methods should be used to inculcate values, and that these should include opportunities for peer learning; furthermore, values should be embedded within all teaching. The limitations of this study were, firstly, that students who indicated the greatest change in their values were least likely to volunteer for focus groups. Secondly, it involved only MA students, all of whom must have relevant work experience before starting their studies. This requirement does not apply to BA social work students, who may therefore have a different starting point in terms of their understanding and awareness of 'social work values'.

Peer teaching resource 3 of 6
Paper presented at the University's Sixteenth Learning & Teaching conference (January, 2010).
65 views on campus, 410 views in total
Staff on campus who looked at How can 'values' be… also viewed

Effects of introducing peer-coaching on student performance. "Peer coaching is a strategy that can be used to assist the acquisition of…"   (Catherine Moore; Sep 2006)

Also viewed auto-updated daily

Next Peer teaching resource

Learning communication skills from groupwork in practical ...   (Sarah Freeman et al.; Aug 2009; 1 min 58s video)

Previous resource

Effects of introducing peer-coaching on student performance. "Peer coaching is a strategy that can be used to assist the acquisition of…"   (Catherine Moore; Sep 2006)

Teaching at Nottingham © Copyright The University of Nottingham
This page: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pesl/themes/peerteaching/howcanva333/
Printed: 08:15 am, Saturday 4th July 2020









URI_elements = Array ( [1] => themes [2] => peerteaching [3] => howcanva333 [4] => )
dfpsb_page_prop['page_Id'] = 2_10
dfpsb_page_prop['bcrumb_type'] = L3
dfpsb_page_prop['pagecat'] = 12
dfpsb_page_prop['set'] =
dfpsb_config['numperpage'] = 10

res_id is empty
Array ( [0] => Peer teaching [1] => 10 [2] => Peer teaching [3] => 12 [4] => Focus on )