SW 2023


This is a mandatory course for all second year BSW students. An introduction to the values, ethics, history and methods of professional social work practice, with particular emphasis on the profession in New Brunswick. An introduction to generic practice, and social work with various client groups. Three hours per week. One semester.


This course aims to assist students to:

gain knowledge about the nature of social work practice including its underlying assumptions, values, ethics, roles and activities;

gain a basic understanding about generalist practice;

understand some of the differences between conventional and progressive approaches to social work;

understand more about themselves in regard to social work;

gain some familiarity with the work of social workers in the community.


There is no required text for the course but students are all expected to have a copy of the following publication:

CASW (1994). Social work code of ethics. Ottawa: CASW

The following recently published book is recommended for students who prefer to have a text.

Johnson, L. C., McClelland, R. W. & Austin, C. A. (2000). Social work practice: A generalist approach (Canadian edition). Scarborough, ON: Allyn & Bacon. This will provide background that will assist you to follow-up class discussions and expand on some (but not all) of the material I provide for you.

I provide outline handouts for each of the classes. Most of them will be in packages so that you can read ahead. There is a good social work section in the library to enable you to supplement what is covered in class. The internet is another useful resource. Suggestions are made at the end of this course outline about additional readings, several are on reserve. Each section of the course is numbered and the sections relevant to the reading are listed on the reference list. There are many more excellent books in the library often around HV 40, some of the most useful will be on reserve. Often (but not always) Canadian and more recent literature is most useful. If you would like specific advice about resource material for an assignment please let me know.

Thinking, journalling and meeting with others to discuss the material, and practice the skills introduced in class are as important as reading. I will assist you to set up study groups. I encourage you to discuss your learning with me. Often I am available for appointments on Tuesday or Thursday before 9.30 or in the afternoon but I also visit students on practicum placements on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. It is impossible to have lengthy discussions in the classroom before or after class. The best way to contact me is by e-mail. We can arrange a meeting if we think that this will help.

Most classes in the early part of the semester will begin by a short lecture followed by an exercise or case study. Towards the end of the course we will have group presentations by class members. Please bring this course outline to each class because we will often use the case studies for class exercises. We will not discuss all of the cases in class though. They are intended to help you to gain a sense of the scope of social work and to relate concepts that we discuss in class and that you read about in handouts to the work carried out by social workers.


You will be evaluated by the following assignments:

1. "Locating yourself in social work" paper. 10 % term mark
2. Midterm Test - 20% term mark
3. Group presentation to the class on a field of social work , 25% term mark - half an hour
4. Log synthesis - 15% term mark
5. Final exam - 30% term mark

If you have any difficulty with an assignment please let me know. Every semester there are students who have difficulties such as exam phobia or dyslexia. Please let me know if you have special needs. I cannot help unless I know!


Write a paper in which you reflect on your heart, head, hand and soul in relation to social work.

I suggest that you consider what you know about social work after you have attended the first four classes. Ask yourself what you think that a social worker needs to feel (heart), know (head), do (hand) and be (soul). Then think about the fit between yourself and a social work career. What comes easy and what will you find more difficult? If you want to gain admission to the professional years of the programme, what will you do to prepare yourself? How can this course help you prepare for social work or your chosen career?

Your mark will be based on demonstrating:
understanding of the four concepts "heart", "head", "hand" and "soul;"
understanding and use of other material covered in the first four classes and handouts;
an ability to relate course material to yourself;
expression of personal strengths and weaknesses for social work;
a clear plan to deal with weaknesses;
an ability to write a clear, concise paper of the correct length;
correct referencing (if references are included) using the style in this outline or any other recognized style;
submission of assignment by due date.

You may lose marks for this and all other assignments if they are not in by the due date unless there are unusual and unanticipated reasons for the delay.

I encourage use of the first person and discourage use of the passive tense in this assignment. Aim for 4 pages of double spaced, medium font. It is unlikely that you will be able to answer this question adequately in less than 3 pages. If the paper is more than 5 pages long I will begin to deduct marks

Note: I do not expect you to know everything about social work by September 28th! What I do expect is that by the time you hand in this assignment you will be beginning to understand something about social work and whether it is a career for you. This paper should help the development of your log.

GROUP PRESENTATION - 25% term mark.

You are asked to do some group work. Why is this? It is because social workers generally work in groups or teams. Your experience of group work will give you an experience of some of the joys and some of the frustrations of working with others. It will also be a useful introduction for those of you who hope to apply for the social work programme. Most of the faculty in Social Work here at STU use group work in their courses, we interview groups of students and require the group to do an exercise together as part of our selection process.

In this course groups will be asked to share their learning about the field of practice with the rest of the class. You will do some useful research so it is important to share it. It also gives you a break from listening to me. Social workers are called upon to be public speakers more and more often. The group presentation will give you some experience of public speaking. Finally it provides an opportunity for you to be creative as you seek an interesting and different way of presenting material. You will have a lot of experience of working in groups during other classes in this course and I will often ask groups to share their discussions with the class. You will get used to it.

Planning your group presentation

1. Fill in Individual Preference Form.

2. Form a group of between 3 and 6 students. You may decide to work with people who you know already, people who live in your community or people who have a particular interest in a field of practice. I will help you to find a group if necessary.

3. Select a field of social work which is of interest to you. There are many possibilities, examples are child protection work, work with foster children, school social work, work with couples or families, hospital social work (or one of its many specializations), mental health social work, employee assistance social work, social work in corrections, gerontological social work, social work administration, social policy work, social work in rural communities, community development work........I could go on and on.

3. I will arrange for you to meet together in interest groups. Let me have Group Proposal Request as soon as possible after this class (one per group). In the interests of class learning I will not allow duplications but if students are tackling a similar field of practice in different ways this is acceptable. When I review the requests I might ask you to negotiate with another group. A request form is attached to this outline. I will produce a schedule shortly after this date and students submitting late proposals may find that a field of practice has been "taken" by a group.

4. Work out a division of labour within the group. How are you going to find out about your field? Maybe one of you had experience of working in this agency. Perhaps you will do library research and/or talk to social workers who are carrying out this work. Make arrangements to meet group members on a regular basis.

5. Talk about group process early on. I strongly advise you to do so. Share what you expect from each other.

This will help to prevent problems and ill feelings as you proceed. Every semester most groups work well but some do not. Sometimes one person feels as if they are doing all the work. Sometimes one person does not attend group meetings or contribute. What will you do to avoid it? What will you do if it occurs?

Make plans now about what you will do if you experience these problems later on.

6. Carry out your research

7. Share your learning with other members of your group

8. Decide how you are going to present information to the class

9. Class presentation

10. I hope that everything runs smoothly. If it does not then try to resolve it yourselves, that is part of the learning. If you cannot resolve the difficulty let me know as soon as possible.

Other comments on group presentation

1. I will be evaluating you as follows:
Usefulness of content in describing a field of social work - 7%
Relating material to course content - 7%
Evidence of teamwork (this does not mean that everyone must speak) - 2%
Skill in presenting, including interesting and creative style - 7%
Keeping to time limit - 2%
marks will be lost if request is late

2. Feel free to contact me to schedule an appointment to discuss your presentation if it will help.
I am prepared to copy up to 2 sides of A4 material for the class if I have it a week in advance (providing it does not infringe copyright regulations)

3. When I mark I will bear in mind that some groups had longer than others to prepare, it is not always an advantage to present late.


This assignment requires you to journal about your learning during the course. At the end of the course you will need to identify three areas of learning and explain the process of this learning. I suggest that you buy yourself a folder or exercise book and use it as a log throughout the course. Jot down what you find interesting, challenging and unexpected as the course progresses. The first four classes and the first assignment should help you to get started. Don't censor your log, I will not ask to see the log, the synthesis is your reflections on the log. Jot down anything that is important to you about social work. For example you may be interested in the issue of confidentiality, jot this down. Do you want to know more about this? How will you find it out? You may disagree with something that is said in class. Jot it down. (Talk to me about it as well, preferably by e-mail). Most important apply what you hear to yourself. What do YOU think? Why? You may be concerned about playing one of the social work roles? Think why this might be the case. Is it a lack of knowledge or skill? What will you do to rectify this? Most of you will apply for a place in the social work course here at STU or elsewhere, these personal reflections will help you when it comes to interview time or when you have to write a personal statement. Your log is a personal document so how you use it is up to you.

All social work courses that I know of will want to know something about YOU before they decide whether they will offer you a place. It is not enough to say that you love people and people talk to you about their problems. Everyone applying to social work says something like that. This is important but we want to hear more. Some of you will not want to enter social work, for you too these personal reflections will help you to understand more about the social work role. Previous students have stated that the log has helped them to learn a lot about themselves. Towards the end of the course I will want you to start to look for themes, you will write about these themes in your log synthesis. Do not try to look for your three themes until early November at the earliest. There will be time for this then. These instructions should be enough to get you started.

Suggested length of log synthesis - 3 to 5 pages of typed work, double spaced (1000 words approx)


There is some basic material that you should know if you are to enter social work. This material will be covered through lectures and handouts. It can be supplemented by reading from the text or from books on reserve. Your understanding of this material will be tested in the midterm test and the final exam. I will talk more about the content of these two tests nearer the time.

For the midterm I will not be asking you to summarize detailed knowledge but will be testing whether you can link ideas to social work situations. You can expect to have one or more case studies in the midterm test and the final exam. Both the test and the exam will require you to reflect upon yourself as a future social worker. You will be expected to understand the major concepts, the generalist model, social work values and the roles of a social worker for the midterm. I will expect you to know the ten principles in the Code of Ethics and apply them to a case. You should know the stages of the generalist model and levels of intervention as well as how to apply this model. You will be expected to identify roles of a social worker and show how they apply in a case. I will be checking that you know and can use the basic concepts in social work. Finally, there will be at least one question that requires you to share your developing knowledge about yourself.

During the final exam there will be questions on the "field of practice" presentations. I expect you to attend presentations from all groups. Sometimes there is a tendency to think that information from the instructor or books is more important than information from other class members. I do not agree! Every semester I am enormously impressed by the high standard of student group-work. The final exam will include questions that require you to draw upon your learning from these presentations. I will not expect detailed knowledge about all fields of practice. I will expect you to be able to apply the material from the early classes to different fields of practice. Within the final exam there will also be an opportunity for you to reflect upon what you have learned from your own group presentation. You will not be given marks for repeating the content of the group presentation. I am interested in YOUR learning. What did you learn about your role within a group? What did you learn about presenting to a class? What did you learn about social work? What are your thoughts about working in this field of practice? How does your learning from this assignment "fit" with other content in the course? What did you learn from the presentations of others...think about methods used to present as well as content.

You can expect a long midterm. You can expect 15 minutes of thinking time and then one hour of hard writing in the mid-term. You can take up to three hours for the final but few do. The exams will allow you to experience what social workers experience, the need to produce quality written work in a short time.


You will hear quite a lot about me during this course, I often use my life and work experiences to illustrate class material. I live in Fredericton with my eighty nine year old mother, and my fifteen year old daughter. My nineteen year old son has recently moved into an apartment in Fredericton. We moved here in 1996 after living in Saskatchewan for three years. When I lived in Saskatchewan I taught social work at the University of Regina. Before that I lived in England and had a number of jobs as a social worker, social services manager and social work educator. I recently completed a PhD in Social Work from Memorial University of Newfoundland, my research has focussed on developing methods for learning about anti-racist social work in rural communities. Currently I am writing encyclopaedia entries about "race" and "minorities," writing a book chapter about minorities in Canada and beginning research about "story" in rural communities. I look forward to hearing about you all in your "locating yourself" and your "log synthesis" assignments. Forgive me if I look blank when I see you in campus, it is hard to get to know everyone in such a large class quickly. This will be the eighth time I have taught this course. I changed it quite a lot after the first year. Generally students and I are pretty well satisfied with the course so I have not changed a lot this year but there are some small changes this semester. We are a small social work department with just eight full or part time faculty so we all teach quite a lot of courses. I will also be teaching a courses in Applied Social Research this semester and liaising with students in field practicums. In other semesters I have taught Rural Social Work, Social Work with Oppressed Groups, Groupwork, Anti-Racist Social Work and Social Work and Organizations I will provide an opportunity to meet other faculty and third and fourth year students on April 6th.

A point about noise. I have a hearing loss and hearing aids don't help. If I ask you to repeat something please don't think it is because you got the answer wrong and I am giving you a second chance. It is most likely to be because I did not hear you. It is often hard for us all to hear in a large classroom so try to speak loudly. If you usually engage in "side conversations" with other students not related to class content please avoid doing so in this class. I don't like it and it prevents other students from concentrating.


You may find that some of these assignments are different from assignments for other courses. Well, this is a social work course! If you find anything particularly difficult feel free to phone or e-mail. Contact me in good time, not just before (or even after) an assignment is due. I prefer e-mail. Generally (but not always) I will be available in my office before class on Tuesday and Thursday and on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. I endeavour to finish by 11.15 so you can book an appointment time with me directly after class if you wish. Often there is a line-up so I can't deal with complicated issues after class. I will provide an opportunity for you to give me structured feedback about how things are going in a few weeks after we have settled down. At all times I welcome feedback that is constructive so let me know how things are going and any suggestions for change. Unfortunately, though, I can't please all of you all of the time.

When you think about the objectives and assignments you will learn a lot about what I am hoping for during this course. I was a social services manager for eleven years in England. I hired scores of social workers during this time. I often used to ask what was the most important resource for a social worker and was pleased when I was given the answer "themselves". Almost all social workers find that tangible resources are inadequate. Social workers need to rely on their creativity and ingenuity to carry out their work. The more that you know and understand about yourself the better. The tests, the final exam, your group presentation and your log synthesis will all require you to think about yourself and social work.

In the social work programme you are asked to take responsibility for your learning. I want to give you a flavour of what to expect in this course. Sometimes students evaluate a course by the quantity of notes they are given. I can remember taking copious notes that I never looked at after some courses. I am interested in what you learn rather than the number of notes you take away from this course. I am not only interested in your head knowledge but also heart, hand and soul. They are all part of what makes you a unique person and will form the foundation for the unique contribution you can make as a social worker. This course will provide experiences for you that will help you to learn about yourself and social work, but only if you are prepared to put in effort and take some personal risks to do so.


I asked a previous group to give a piece of advice to students just beginning the course. The comments with a * were made most frequently. This is what they said, uncensored and complete, I promise!

*Reflect upon yourself often - your life, who you are, what you want, be honest in this
*Be prepared to learn about yourself and to change
*SW 292 (previous course number) is probably unlike any other course you have taken
*Learning the early concepts is the most difficult part
*Come with an open mind
Don't worry too much if you don't understand at first, it falls into place
If you really want to be a social worker, push for it
Attend class
Don't be put off by the workload, it isn't that much spread over the semester
Try not to get behind
Try to be prepared for class
When times are tough, keep on
Do keep a journal
Take the reflections papers seriously
Work to your fullest potential
Make sure that you don't miss class presentations
Review notes on concepts
Enjoy. Listen to what other students say


I expect students to attend classes regularly and on time. I do not keep a register but each semester I see that students who attend regularly earn the highest grades. In exceptional circumstances when absence is unavoidable I will offer students a tutorial and class handouts. In other circumstances it is the responsibility of the student to try to make up missed work. You cannot make up class discussions and case study exercises from classes you missed. I provide packages of handouts for each section. You might be wise to number your handouts, previous students have had problems in keeping their work in order when they did not do so. Do not expect handouts from missed classes as a right.

I will provide feedback to individual students and groups about proposed work. The most efficient way to communicate with me is by e-mail. To avoid an academic penalty make sure that you hand in your assignments at the appropriate time. I discourage the handing in of assignments before the due date, students may find that material covered in later classes will enhance their work. This does not prevent you from doing a draft and holding it until the due date. Then you will be able to make amendments if you choose to do so. Do not fax or e-mail assignments unless you check with me before you do so. Late assignments may be accepted if arrangements are made with me before the due date and may be penalized at the rate of 2% per day (10% per week) unless there are urgent unforseen circumstances.

Students are directed to the University policy (p. 212 of the 1999 - 2001 Academic Calendar) which states "in the evaluation of any piece of writing, submitted in any course of the university, form as well as content (insofar as they can be separated) will be considered." Students will be awarded numerical grades for assignments. The final grade will be a letter grade. Please see page 213 of the calendar for a description of the meaning of letter grades.

The department of social work allocates letter grades as follows:

96 and above =A+
91 - 95 = A
86 - 90 = A-
81 - 85 = B+
76 - 80= B
71 - 75 = B-
66 - 70 = C+
61 - 65 = C
56 - 60 = C-
50 - 55 = D
<50 = F

We have high academic standards for admissions and the minimum GPA for acceptance in the programme is B-. Please see pages 21 to 24 of the calendar for information about acceptance into the 3rd and 4th years of the programme and the post-degree programme. An information meeting in the winter will provide further information. Keep on the lookout for posters about it


I may decide to modify this when I get to know the class, if there are major changes I will distribute a revised version. The dates are for a guide only. I plan for us to follow the order in the schedule but we may find that we cover material a class or two earlier or later


This section will give basic knowledge about social work and it will provide material that will help you to think about yourself in a social work role.

The social worker - heart, head, hand and soul
Pain and healing
Social work, social welfare and social science
Social work as problem solving
Being a helper
Being ordinary
Listening and communicating

Additional reading: Johnson, Part One and Chapter 6.


During these classes we will consider concepts (ideas) that help us to understand some of the ways in which social workers differ from each other. You might find this part of the course the most intellectually challenging. Don't worry. As you use the terms more they will become clearer. If you have a strong social science background you will find it easier. These terms reflect different ways of thinking about social work. As you begin to understand the terms try to think about where you stand in regard to each of them.

Order and conflict models of society
Positivism and humanism
Conventional social work
Structural social work (terms radical and progressive are sometimes used)
Blaming the victim
Hierarchy and anarchy
Radical extension to conventional practice

Additional reading: Johnson, Appendix


We will be considering what the 1994 Canadian Social Work Code of Ethics means and we will apply it in practice. We will briefly consider alternatives to this code.
Required Reading: C.A.S.W. Code of Ethics. Bring it with you to these classes..
Additional reading: Johnson, Chapter 3 & 6.


You will learn about the social work process from assessment to termination of work. We will also consider different levels along the micro-macro continuum.

You will consider a number of different roles played by social workers.

On February 29th I hope to invite guests to help us to think about how useful the linear thinking in the generalist model of social work is for Native people.

I will answer any questions about mid-term and we will discuss how you can prepare for this test.

Additional reading: Johnson, Part Three.



This section aims to provide an introduction to social work skills. We will consider counselling, look at eco-maps, and practice "sculpting," as examples. Finally we will think about how to get to know a new community and employing agency. We will hear about social work practice with native people. Note: It is possible that this date will be changed to a date suitable for our guests.

Additional reading: Johnson, Part Two


A schedule will be provided. Make sure that you know the date for your group.


Meet students and faculty, hear about the programme


Overview of Course
Preparation for exams
Social work challenges and rewards
Course evaluations


SCWK 2023 Introduction to Social Work
SCWK 3033 Applied Social Research
SCWK 3223 Social Work and the Organization
SCWK 3753 Anti-racist Social Work
SCWK 3743 Social Work with Oppressed Groups
SCWK 4023 Field Integration Seminar

R. Clews / Social Work / Faculty / STU Homepage