Talking knowledge – practicing knowledge: A critical best practice approach to how social workers understand and use knowledge in practice

Gordon, Jean and Cooper, Barry (2010). Talking knowledge – practicing knowledge: A critical best practice approach to how social workers understand and use knowledge in practice. Practice: Social Work in Action, 22(4) pp. 245–257.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09503153.2010.495768

Abstract

There is strong government support in the UK for the development and implementation of evidence-based or knowledge-informed practice in social work. At the same time, despite many national and local initiatives to support evidence use, there is still uncertainty and disagreement about how best to enable organisations and practitioners to achieve this goal. This paper argues that policy and practice initiatives to promote the effective use of evidence and knowledge for practice must be based on an understanding of how social workers understand and use knowledge in their day to day practice. It reports on a small scale research study in Scotland which uses a „critical best practice‟ approach (Ferguson, 2003) to take an in depth look at how six social workers make use of research, inquiry, and other forms of knowledge evidence in relation to an example of their practice. The research found that the social workers drew on a wide range of knowledge in active, critical and reflective ways that were embedded within the particular context of their practices and their own experiences and beliefs. The findings highlight a range of personal and organisational capabilities which may support best practice in using knowledge to inform social work practice.

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