Teaching empathy on a remote social work placement: Relationship-based practice teaching

Thumbnail Image
O'Brien, Elaine
Halton, Carmel
Rose, Joanne
Drinan, Chelsea
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Whiting & Birch
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
In this article, the author reflects on their experience of teaching and supervising an MSW student on placement, in a fostering agency, during COVID-19. The author emphasises the practical and pedagogical challenges they experienced when developing learning opportunities for online placement, during a global pandemic. The article points to design features of the placement, to their implementation, and discusses learning outcomes for the student and practice teacher. The author drew on related literature when preparing for and designing the placement. They were guided by the work of Bennett (2008) and their principles of effective supervision, the Kolb learning cycle (1984), and research on empathy (Morrison, 2005; Gerdes, et al 2011).The author focused on representing how role modelling the skill of empathy in the supervision space was used to support their practice teaching methodology. The student feedback on completion of the placement provides evidence that supports the author’s contention that supervision must be made a safe context for student learning. In addition, the use of ‘role modelling’ as a teaching methodology and the importance of ‘relationship building’ between the practice teacher and the student in the supervision space are critical components of the placement learning experience and subsequent learning outcomes.
Remote practice teaching , Teaching empathy , Student centred learning , Relationship based practice teaching , Reflection , Field education
O’Brien, E., Halton, C., Rose, J. and Drinan, C. (2023) ‘Teaching empathy on a remote social work placement: Relationship-based practice teaching’, The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 20(1), https://doi.org/10.1921/jpts.v20i1.1909.
Link to publisher’s version
© 2023 The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning