Service user and carer feedback: simply pass/fail or a genuine learning tool?

Pearl, Richard; Williams, Helen Myfanwy; Williams, Lynn; Brown, Ken; Brown, Brenda; Hollington, Lee; Gruffydd, Mari; Jones, Roy; Yorke, Stephen and Statham, Gwyneth (2018). Service user and carer feedback: simply pass/fail or a genuine learning tool? Social Work Education, 37(5) pp. 553–564.



Social Work Students in Britain are required to submit feedback from Service Users and Carers as part of their Practice Learning portfolios. The purpose of this is twofold—to demonstrate evidence of the student’s ability and to provide information for the student to reflect on and learn from. Members of the Service User and Carer Advisory group attached to a Social Work degree course believe this represents an opportunity for users and carers to influence future social work practice. In reality however, does this feedback actually make a difference? Group members reviewed user and carer feedback contained within student portfolios submitted during one academic year. They found that whilst there were some excellent examples of constructive criticism, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive towards students. The findings raised questions about how gathering Service User and Carer feedback is viewed and undertaken. Is the feedback seen more as a pass/fail issue or as an opportunity to learn from? Could there be better ways to gain constructive feedback for students? What conditions enable students to learn from the feedback that is gathered? This paper starts to explore these questions and suggests ideas for further research and training.

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