Appendix 6:

Guidelines for Offering Support to Students in Preparing Assignments or Placement Reports.

These notes are intended to provide guidance to all those who may be involved in giving advice to students about assignments or placement reports. This includes students' own tutors and markers from social work and social science sections of universities and colleges as well as practice teachers who are involved as markers of the Integrative Practice Studies or in collaboration with students in placement report submissions.

Tutors, practice teachers and other lecturers are often asked to provide some kind of studies advice throughout a student's progress on a course. It is probably most particularly requested in respect of written assignments or placement reports.

General advice may include discussion about:

- developing and improving students' study skills and habits,
- planning and utilising time,
- reading,
- note-taking,
- writing skills,

or, in relation to particular assignments (including, for example, Integrative Practice Studies, "Needs and Resources" profiles)

- careful reading of the question,
- addressing all elements of the question,
- selecting questions or material,
- the use of particular referencing systems,
- presentation and structure of the assignment,
- the provision of a bibliography,
- keeping to word limits,
- avoiding plagiarism.

  1. Advice about all of the above may be required at the beginning of the course but by Part Two students should have mastered these skills and then would only discuss plans for assignments, suggested structure or content or clarify the implications of certain research or other reading.
  2. In specific circumstances, the reading of brief EXTRACTS, in draft form, by lecturers, practice teachers or tutors might be appropriate. These circumstances might normally include, for example, a student with a specific learning need arising from dyslexia or where English is a second language. It is also envisaged that this support to a student would be only in the earlier stages of training and, certainly not beyond Part One of the DipSW.
  3. It is important that readers do not see or comment on final or complete draft versions of assignments. The term 'assignment' includes the Integrative Practice Study and so practice teachers are also readers in this category. Assignments are a student's own work. Comment at this point might seriously disadvantage or advantage a student whether or not the tutor/lecturer/practice teacher is also a marker/assessor of that particular assignment.
  4. It needs to be acknowledged that people come to the Programme from very different backgrounds and at different academic starting points (although they all have to reach the same end point). It may, therefore, also be appropriate to see short sections of the first assignment in draft form in order to identify particular difficulties a student might be having. For example a diagnosis of dyslexia might only be made while a student is on the course.
  5. It is also important not to offer an opinion as to whether a particular piece of work is likely to pass or fail. This task belongs only to the nominated assessors of that particular piece of work.
  6. In relation to placement reports, it is very clear in the regulations how crucial a piece of work is the student's contribution to the placement report and that it must provide evidence of competence in its own right. Practice teachers should discuss the contents of interim reports and provide helpful feedback at that stage. Guiding students about the provision of evidence and how to write about and reflect on their practice are important stepping stones in this process. Although the student's contribution to the final report is his/her own work and has to stand or fall on its own merits or demerits, it is legitimate for the practice teacher to comment on this (i.e. the student's) part of the report as it is taking shape. In addition, the practice teacher should offer more formal comments in his/her contribution to the final report.

©West of Scotland Consortium for Education and Training in Social Work 2001.