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,
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.