University of Twente Student Theses


Becoming a professional: Can autobiographical writing add value to the construction of a Professional Identity of social work students

Neumann, Christin (2020) Becoming a professional: Can autobiographical writing add value to the construction of a Professional Identity of social work students.

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Abstract:Social work education still does not prepare students appropriately for their future as young professionals. Since constructing a professional identity (PI) is important, education should not miss to include it in the learning programme. One way to strengthen the PI construction of students is through reflection. The classic method of critical reflection focuses on the evaluation of a specific meaningful event with the goal of improving the actions of the individual. Autobiographical reflection is a method that focuses on narratives in form of past experiences to adapt future actions. Recent literature found that the latter method focuses on the reminiscence functions and benefits well-being because narratives support the resolving of negativity. It is also beneficial for meaning making and therefore might strengthen the PI construction. This is why this study suggests an added value of autobiographical reflection compared to critical reflection. However, in literature there is a lack of research that investigates these constructs together over time. A randomized controlled trial was conducted on three measure points with three different conditions consisting of 244 social work students of a Dutch university in total. Condition 1 consisted of critical reflection lessons, condition 2 consisted of both critical reflection and autobiographical reflection and condition 3 consisted of both critical and autobiographical reflection and included persuasive technology in the learning environment. Five different questionnaires were used to examine the PI, well-being, reminiscence functions, level of reflection and perceived persuasiveness. There were no other interaction effects found between the three conditions and time regarding the PI, well-being, reminiscence functions, and level of reflection of the students. However, autobiographical writing did have an effect on the practices of the students. Additionally, students who received both autobiographical writing lessons as well as critical reflection lessons, reached a higher level of reflection than compared to the other two conditions. Furthermore, conditions 2 and 3 did not differ in their perceived persuasiveness of the online learning environment. Results showed that the students, irrespective of condition, at first showed increased exploration of their PI, which decreased in a later stage. The study also found that over time, the social and overall well-being of students rises and that they engage in more practical activities regarding their future work. Further research is necessary to confirm the effects found in this study.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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