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Using Rubrics to provide Strength-based Feedback for Social Work Assignments
Posted By Laurel Hitchcock on Feb 4, 2019 | 0 comments
Editor’s Note: I am excited to welcome back Kristen Samuels, MSW, MS, MEd , the Field Director for University of Phoenix’s Department of Social Work , for this month’s guest educator blog post. Back in December 2018, I sent a tweet asking for advice on how to improve my grading practices, and turned the responses from colleagues into a blog post . Kristen was one of those colleagues and I asked her to turn her own tweets about strength-based feedback and rubrics into this blog post. Kristen can be reached at [email protected], or @KristenMSamuels on Twitter.
I recently returned to the classroom as a student in an EdD program. Although I certainly struggle with the workload, committing to life-long learning and taking the role of the student has made me a better instructor. As I am reminded of the anxiety that comes with unclear expectations or inconsistent grading practices, I become more aware of my own approaches for delivering feedback in my online classrooms. In discussions with my peers about the rigor and intensity of the doctoral writing process, we reflected on our individual fears in presenting written assignments to any of our former professors. Writing is an incredibly complex and emotive process. Students are asked to read, comprehend, apply, analyze, summarize, etc., and then present content in an integrated, accurate, and convincing way. It would be easy to miss a step and lose confidence in our position, and in that way, students are vulnerable when turning in written assignments. After putting forward long thought-out interpretations and opinions of the material, it is difficult to not view feedback as a personal attack on our intelligence. We wind ourselves up in self-doubt, and add undue stress when we throw in the impossible task of deciphering tone from an instructor’s feedback.
Strength-based feedback for Social Work Assignments
For this reason, and particularly for us as Social Work educators, we owe it to our students to present feedback with care. This can be as simple as avoiding capitalizing words (the online equivalent of shouting), and intentionally leading/ending feedback with what the student has done well in the assignment. Research on feedback tells us that affirmative comments acknowledges students’ efforts and encourages learning, instead of emphasizing grades (Stipek & Chiatovich, 2017). It is also an excellent way to model strengths-based approaches with our students!
This does not ignore our responsibility to offer corrective feedback, but in a way that promotes growth and ensures comprehension of the course objectives. Providing specific comments in areas where points were lost, can signal need for additional review and points of focus for future submissions. As supported by Gallien & Oomen-Early (2008), our responses should be an even mix of acknowledging their strengths and noted growth, as well as include strategies to promote reflection and deeper learning. The major dilemma for any social work educator is how to give thorough and timely individualized feedback, which is critical to student success and helps maintain academic standards long term, while managing the process of grading including the amount of time and energy needed.
For example, written assignments take a significant amount of time to thoroughly read and provide substantive feedback on. If the course objectives are best met through this means of assessment, your time will be well spent if you develop a rubric at the same time as the assignment. The audience of this blog is likely familiar with the term “rubric”, but you may want to consider the phrase “grading guide” with your students.
I prefer to provide written feedback to my student’s as opposed to verbal feedback by recording my reactions. My reason for this is accessibility. Although we assume that our students are connected with the services and tools that they need to be successful for our online courses, not all students self-report their needs, and I do not want them to miss out on this critical piece of learning. If the tool is embedded in your learning management system (LMS) such as Voicethread, it likely meets your institutions accessibility standards and is a fine alternative.
How I develop a rubric
As an instructor, I begin by developing an assignment in alignment with the course objective(s), and simultaneously develop the rubric. The objective(s) to be assessed in your assignment should be directly reflected in the assignment instructions, and then mirrored in the rubric. For example, if your objective is to “Describe typical stages of grief and explain how cultural, religious, and spiritual practices affect the bereavement process”, the assignment should expand on your expectations, and a line of your rubric should reflect measurement of those goals. For example:
Course objective to be assessed in this assignment: “Describe typical stages of grief and explain how cultural, religious, and spiritual practices affect the bereavement process.”
(Relevant portion of) Assignment instructions: Briefly describe each of the stages of grief from the text. Identify at least 3 examples of cultural, religious, or spiritual practices from the case study provided. How might this affect the clients’ bereavement process?
(Relevant portion of) Assignment Rubric:
Final comments: “Well done, Alex! You’ve earned XX out of XX points for this assignment. You’ve done well identifying and explaining the 5 stages of grief, and 3 examples of cultural practices that influenced the client’s bereavement. Your interpretation of the client’s spiritual ritual was fascinating, I hope you’ll share this perspective with the class in our discussion forum! I would add to your “bargaining” stage that this serves an important role for the client, where they temporarily escape from their pain and take time to process their new reality. In this stage the clients’ emotional needs are high, so it is important to review their support system of family and friends. I am seeing marked improvement in your writing style and APA, thank you for your hard work! This attention to detail will pay off not only in the course, but long term in your documentation skills in practice. Remember that a “Writing Guide” is posted in our course homepage with additional support including samples, resources, and best practices in formal writing. Overall, well done this week, Alex, I’m looking forward to seeing your work in Week 3. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you before then!”
This final comments script can be easily altered for each student, keeping the basic framework and editing individual details. I prefer to use the indicators above – “Does not meet expectations”, “Approaches Expectations”, and “Meets Expectations” in my rubrics. I do not believe that “exceeding expectations” is fair to grade upon, but instead belongs in specific comments of praise and acknowledgement in the final feedback section. Generally, I develop my rubrics as follows:
- 70% content – listing each specific requirement to be addressed, as outlined in course/assignment objectives. Examples may include: Relevant content or analysis is accurately described and supported by research. Use of theory, examples, or other language are correct, comprehensive, and persuasive.
- 15% Organization and Structure – Effectively organized: introduction to provide background and preview points, body with logical transitions and appropriate tone, and conclusion reviewing major ideas.
- 15% Mechanics and APA – rules of grammar, spelling, usage, etc. are followed, intellectual property is appropriately cited consistent with APA formatting guidelines.
Designing detailed rubrics up-front saves time during the grading process. Making these available to the students along with assignment instructions clearly informs them of your expectations, provides them with an outline to organize their research, and helps minimize concerns of subjectivity in your grading process. It also speeds up the process for us as faculty, as you have already articulated what quality looks like in the final product, you simply need to provide detail on how they hit or fell short of these targets.
How do you use rubrics with your assignments? Please post your comments and ideas below.
Gallien, T., & Oomen-Early, J. (2008). Personalized versus collective instructor feedback in the online courseroom: Does type of feedback affect student satisfaction, academic performance and perceived connectedness with the instructor? International Journal on ELearning, 7 (3), 463-476. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/docview/210354848? accountid =134061
Stipek, D., & Chiatovich, T. (2017). The effect of instructional quality on low- and high-performing students . Psychology in the Schools, 54 (8), 773–791. https://doi-org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.1002/pits.22034
How to cite this blog post: Samuels, K. (2019, February 4). Using Rubrics to provide Strength-based Feedback for Social Work Assignments [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://laureliversonhitchcock.org/2019/02/04/using-rubrics-to-provide-strength-based-feedback-for-social-work-assignments/
Author: Laurel Hitchcock
Dr. Hitchcock served as the editor for this blog post. The author is the Guest Blogger (Social Work Educator or Student).
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Case Study - Rubric
This KB document is part of a larger collection of documents on Equity and inclusion. More Equity & Inclusion documents
Using a rubric to assess student performance using a case study in an online discuss to facilitate investigation and research of content.
Rubric example: case study
- Investigation and Research Discussions
- Case Study - Description
- Case Study - Example
- Affordances of Online Discussions
- Steps for Building an Online Asynchronous Discussion
- Using Online Asynchronous Discussions to Increase Student Engagement & Active Learning
A rubric is a learning and assessment tool that articulates the expectations for assignments and performance tasks by listing criteria, and for each criteria, describing levels of quality (Andrade, 2000; Arter & Chappuis, 2007; Stiggins, 2001). Rubrics contain four essential features (Stevens & Levi, 2013):
A description of performance quality give students a clear idea about what must be done to demonstrate a certain level of mastery, understanding, or proficiency (i.e., "excellent" does xyz, "fair" does only xy or yz, "poor" does only x or y or z). Rubrics can be used for any assignment in a course, or for any way in which you ask students to demonstrate what they've learned. They can also be used to facilitate self and peer-reviews of student work.
A rubric can be analytic or holistic. An analytic rubric articulates different dimensions of performance and provides ratings for each dimension. A holistic rubric describes the overall characteristics of a performnace and provides a single score. Here are some pros and cons:
2. Why You Should Consider Rubrics
Rubrics help instructors :
- Provide students with feedback that is clear, directed and focused on ways to improve learning.
- Demystify assignment expectations so students can focus on the work instead of guessing "what the teacher wants."
- Adapt your approach to teaching aspects of a course based on thematic gaps in student learning that are easily identified by reviewing rubrics across a class.
- Develop consistency in how you evaluate student learning across students and throughout a class.
- Reduce time spent on grading; Increase time spent on teaching.
Rubrics help students :
- Focus their efforts on completing assignments in line with clearly set expectations.
- Self and Peer-reflect on their learning, making informed changes to achieve the desired learning level.
3. Getting Started with Rubrics
STEP 1: Clarify task/performance expectations.
STEP 2: Identify the characteristics of student performances. What is it that students are supposed to demonstrate (skills, knowledge, behaviors, etc.)? [components/dimensions]
STEP 3: Identify how many mastery levels are needed for each performance component/dimension. Decide what score should be allocated for each level. [scale]
STEP 4: Describe performance characteristics of each component/dimension for each mastery level. [performance descriptor]
STEP 5: Pilot-test the rubric with a few sample papers and/or get feedback from your colleagues (and students) on the rubric. Revise the rubric.
4. Rater Training and Calibrartion
In order to provide consistent and reliable rating, those who will be rating student work or performance need to be familiar with the rubric and need to interpret and apply the rubric in the same way. To calibrate ratings among raters, a rating orientation can be useful.
Steps involved in rater training and calibration:
Step 1: Explain how to use the rubric. Familiarize faculty with the categories and levels. For each mastery level, provide one sample with annotations of the features found in student work that capture the rating criteria.
Step 2: Provide two samples of student performance/work that represents different levels of mastery (mask the ratings). Have faculty rate them independently applying the rubric.
Step 3: Gather faculty’s ratings to show the agreement on the rating.
Step 4: Discuss scoring inconsistencies and reasons behind different ratings. Revise/clarify the rubric, if necessary.
Step 5: Once consensus is made on the ratings and when faculty feel comfortable with using the rubric, proceed with individual ratings of student work/performance. Provide faculty with rating sheet and explain the procedure (e.g., two raters for one sample).
5. Rubric Examples
Sample rubrics from berkeley faculty: .
- Sociology Department: Writing assessment rubric
- Sociology Department: Rubric for Grading an Analytical Essay , from Sociology Department
- Rubric for Evaluating Written Assignments (pdf)
- International and Area Studies: Honors Thesis Rubric
- International and Area Studies: Honors Thesis Evaluation Form
- Sample Research Paper, Annotated Bibliography, and Reflection
Other rubric samples:
- Group presentation rubric (UC Davis): http://dhc.ucdavis.edu/includes/pdf/Group_Research_Presentations_Rubric.pdf (link is external)
- Research paper rubric (George Mason University): http://ctfe.gmu.edu/teaching/grading/sample-rubric-for-grading-a-research-paper/ (link is external)
- Lab report rubric (University of Michigan): http://www.crlt.umich.edu/gsis/p7_11 (link is external)
- Dissertation proposal rubric (Purdue University): http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/ira/assess/pdf/Purdue_PhD_DissertationRubric.pdf (link is external)
- AAC&U VALUE rubrics (Rubrics on: Civic Engagement, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Ethical Reasoning, Information Literacy, Inquiry Analysis, Integrative Learning, Intercultural Competence, Lifelong Learning, Oral Communication, Problem Solving, Quantitative Literacy, Global Learning, Reading, Teamwork, Written Communication): http://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics/pdf/All_Rubrics.pdf (link is external)
- University of Maryland: http://openedpractices.org/files/CT%20and%20research%20Univ.%20of%20MD%20CTE.pdf (link is external)
- Rubric for Integration of Student Learning Assessment into Program Reviews
- Rubric for Assessing the Quality of Academic Program Learning Outcomes
- Rubric for Assessing the Use of Portfolios for Assessing Program Learning Outcomes
- Rubric for Evalutating General Education Assessment Process
- The Educational Effectiveness Framework: Capacity & Effectiveness as They Relate to Student and Institutional Learning
- Rubric for Assessing the use of Capstone Experiences for Assessing Program Learning Outcomes
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Social Work Literature Review Guidelines
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This handout provides an overview of how to write literature reviews in the field of social work. It provides a list of suggestions and examples.
Literature reviews are designed to do two things: 1) give your readers an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic or idea and 2) demonstrate how your research fits into the larger field of study, in this case, social work.
Unlike annotated bibliographies which are lists of references arranged alphabetically that include the bibliographic citation and a paragraph summary and critique for each source, literature reviews can be incorporated into a research paper or manuscript. You may quote or paraphrase from the sources, and all references to sources should include in-text parenthetical citations with a reference list at the end of the document. Sometimes, however, an instructor may require a separate literature review document and will have specific instructions for completing the assignment.
Below you will find general guidelines to consider when developing a literature review in the field of social work. Because social work is a social science field, you will most likely be required to use APA style. Please see our APA materials for information on creating parenthetical citations and reference lists.
1. Choose a variety of articles that relate to your subject, even if they do not directly answer your research question. You may find articles that loosely relate to the topic, rather than articles that you find using an exact keyword search. At first, you may need to cast a wide net when searching for sources.
For example: If your research question focuses on how people with chronic illnesses are treated in the workplace, you may be able to find some articles that address this specific question. You may also find literature regarding public perception of people with chronic illnesses or analyses of current laws affecting workplace discrimination.
2. Select the most relevant information from the articles as it pertains to your subject and your purpose. Remember, the purpose of the literature review is to demonstrate how your research question fits into a larger field of study.
3. Critically examine the articles. Look at methodology, statistics, results, theoretical framework, the author's purpose, etc. Include controversies when they appear in the articles.
For example: You should look for the strengths and weaknesses of how the author conducted the study. You can also decide whether or not the study is generalizable to other settings or whether the findings relate only to the specific setting of the study. Ask yourself why the author conducted the study and what he/she hoped to gain from the study. Look for inconsistencies in the results, as well.
4. Organize your information in the way that makes most sense. Some literature reviews may begin with a definition or general overview of the topic. Others may focus on another aspect of your topic. Look for themes in the literature or organize by types of study.
For example: Group case studies together, especially if all the case studies have related findings, research questions, or other similarities.
5. Make sure the information relates to your research question/thesis. You may need to explicitly show how the literature relates to the research question; don't assume that the connection is obvious.
6. Check to see that you have done more than simply summarize your sources. Your literature review should include a critical assessment of those sources. For more information, read the Experimental Psychology - Writing a Literature Review handout for questions to think about when reading sources.
7. Be sure to develop questions for further research. Again, you are not simply regurgitating information, but you are assessing and leading your reader to questions of your own, questions and ideas that haven't been explored yet or haven't been addressed in detail by the literature in the field.
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Undergraduate Case Analysis Rubric
This rubric can be used for guiding undergraduate case analysis for the course " Genomics, Ethics, and Society ."
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2055332. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
Rubric Best Practices, Examples, and Templates
Instructors have many tasks to perform during the semester, including grading assignments and assessments. Feedback on performance is a critical factor in helping students improve and succeed. Grading rubrics can provide more consistent feedback for students and create efficiency for the instructor/grader.
A rubric is a scoring tool that identifies the different criteria relevant to an assignment, assessment, or learning outcome and states the possible levels of achievement in a specific, clear, and objective way. Use rubrics to assess project-based student work, including essays, group projects, creative endeavors, and oral presentations. Rubrics are helpful for instructors because they can help them communicate expectations to students and assess student work fairly and efficiently. Finally, rubrics can provide students with informative feedback on their strengths and weaknesses so that they can reflect on their performance and work on areas that need improvement.
How to Get Started
Best practices, moodle how-to guides.
- Workshop Recording (Fall 2022)
- Workshop Registration
Step 1: Define the Purpose
The first step in the rubric-creation process is to define the purpose of the assignment or assessment for which you are creating a rubric. To do this, consider the following questions:
- What is the assignment?
- Does the assignment break down into different or smaller tasks?
- Are these tasks equally important as the main assignment?
- What are the learning objectives for the assignment?
- What do you want students to demonstrate through the completion of this assignment?
- What would an excellent assignment look like?
- How would you describe an acceptable assignment?
- How would you describe an assignment that falls below expectations?
- What kind of feedback do you want to give students for their work?
- Do you want/need to give them a grade? If so, do you want to give them a single overall grade or detailed feedback based on a variety of criteria?
- Do you want to give students specific feedback that will help them improve their future work?
Step 2: Decide What Kind of Rubric You Will Use
Types of rubrics: holistic, analytic/descriptive, single-point
Holistic Rubric. A holistic rubric consists of a single scale with all the criteria to be included in the evaluation (such as clarity, organization, mechanics, etc.) being considered together. With a holistic rubric, the rater or grader assigns a single score (usually on a 1-4 or 1-6 point scale) based on an overall judgment of the student’s work. The rater matches an entire piece of student work to a single description on the scale.
Advantages of holistic rubrics:
- Place an emphasis on what learners can demonstrate rather than what they cannot
- Save time by minimizing the number of decisions to be made
- Can be used consistently across raters, provided they have all been trained
Disadvantages of holistic rubrics:
- Do not provide specific feedback for improvement
- Can be difficult to choose a score when a student’s work is at varying levels across the criteria
- Criteria cannot be weighted
Analytic/Descriptive Rubric . An analytic rubric resembles a grid with the criteria for an assignment listed in the left column and with levels of performance listed across the top row, often using numbers and/or descriptive tags. The cells within the center of the rubric may be left blank or may contain descriptions of what the specified criteria look like for each level of performance. When scoring with an analytic rubric, each of the criteria is scored individually.
Advantages of analytic rubrics:
- Provide feedback on areas of strength or weakness
- Each criterion can be weighted to reflect its relative importance
Disadvantages of analytic rubrics:
- More time-consuming to create and use than a holistic rubric
- May not be used consistently across raters unless the rubrics are well defined
- May limit personalized feedback to help students improve
Single-Point Rubric . Similar to an analytic/descriptive rubric in that it breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria. The detailed performance descriptors are only for the level of proficiency. Feedback space is provided for instructors to give individualized comments to help students improve and/or show where they excelled beyond the proficiency descriptors.
Advantages of single-point rubrics:
- Easier to create than an analytic/descriptive rubric
- More likely that students will read the descriptors
- Areas of concern and excellence are open-ended removes a focus on the grade/points
- May increase student creativity in project-based assignments
- Requires more work for instructors writing feedback
Step 3: Define the Criteria
Ask yourself: What knowledge and skills are required for the assignment/assessment? Make a list of these, group and label them, and eliminate any that are not critical.
Helpful strategies for defining grading criteria:
- Review the learning objectives for the course; use the assignment prompt, existing grading checklists, peer response sheets, comments on previous work, past examples of student work, etc.
- Try describing A/B/C work.
- Consider “sentence starters” with verbs describing student performance from Bloom’s Taxonomy or other terms to indicate various levels of performance, i.e., presence to absence, complete to incomplete, many to some to none, major to minor, consistent to inconsistent, always to usually to sometimes to rarely
- Collaborate with co-instructors, teaching assistants, and other colleagues
- Brainstorm and discuss with students
- Can they be observed and measured?
- Are they important and essential?
- Are they distinct from other criteria?
- Are they phrased in precise, unambiguous language?
- Revise the criteria as needed
- Consider how you will weigh them in relation to each other
Step 4: Design the Rating Scale
Most ratings scales include between 3 and 5 levels. Consider the following questions:
- Given what students are able to demonstrate in this assignment/assessment, what are the possible levels of achievement?
- Will you use numbers or descriptive labels for these levels?
- If you choose descriptive labels, what labels are most appropriate? Will you assign a number to those labels?
- In what order will you list these levels — from lowest to highest or vice versa?
Step 5: Write Descriptions for Each Level of the Rating Scale
Create statements of expected performance at each level of the rubric. For an analytic rubric, do this for each particular criterion of the rubric. These descriptions help students understand your expectations and their performance in regard to those expectations.
Start with the top/exemplary work category –what does it look like when a student has achieved excellence in each category? Then look at the “bottom” category –what does it look like when students have not achieved the learning goals in any way? Then add the categories in between.
Also, take into consideration that well-written descriptions:
- Describe observable and measurable behavior
- Use parallel language across the scale
- Indicate the degree to which the standards are met
Step 6: Create your Rubric
- Develop the criteria, rating scale, and descriptions for each level of the rating scale into a rubric
- Include the assignment at the top of the rubric, space permitting
- For reading and grading ease, limit the rubric to a single page, if possible
- Consider the effectiveness of your rubric and revise accordingly
- Create your rubric in a table or spreadsheet in Word, Google Docs, Sheets, etc., and then transfer it by typing it into Moodle. You can also use online tools to create the rubric, but you will still have to type the criteria, indicators, levels, etc., into Moodle. Rubric creators: Rubistar , iRubric
Step 7: Pilot-test your Rubric
Prior to implementing your rubric on a live course, obtain feedback from:
- Teacher Assistants
Also, try out your new rubric on a sample of student work. After you pilot-test your rubric, analyze the results to consider its effectiveness and revise accordingly.
- Use Parallel Language . Make sure that the language from column to column is similar and that syntax and wording correspond. Of course, the words will change for each section or assignment, as will the expectations, but in terms of readability, make sure that the rubric can be easily read from left to right or vice versa. In addition, if you have an indicator described in one category, it will need to be described in the next category, whether it is about “having included” or “not having included” something. This is all about clarity and transparency to students.
- Use Student-Friendly Language . If students can’t understand the rubric, it will not be useful for guiding instruction, reflection, and assessment. If you want students to engage in using the rubric, they have to understand it. Make sure the language is learning-level appropriate. If you use academic language or concepts, you will need to teach those concepts.
- Use the Rubric with Your Students . You have to use the rubric with the students. It means nothing to them if you don’t. For students to find the rubric useful in terms of their learning, they must see a reason for using it. Students should understand that the rubric is there to help them learn, reflect, and self-assess. If students use a rubric, they will understand the expectations and their relevance to learning.
- Don’t Use Too Many Columns . The rubric needs to be comprehensible and organized. Pick the right amount of columns so that the criteria flow logically and naturally across levels.
- Common Rubrics and Templates are Awesome . Avoid rubric fatigue, as in creating rubrics to the point where you just can’t do it anymore. This can be done with common rubrics that students see across multiple classroom activities and through creating templates that you can alter slightly as needed. Design those templates for learning targets or similar performance tasks in your classroom. It’s easy to change these types of rubrics later. Figure out your common practices and create a single rubric your team can use.
- Rely on Descriptive Language. The most effective descriptions are those that use specific descriptions. This means avoiding words like “good” and “excellent.” At the same time, don’t rely on numbers, such as a number of resources, as your crutch. Instead of saying, “find excellent sources” or “use three sources,” focus your rubric language on the quality use of whatever sources students find and on the best possible way of aligning that data to the work. It isn’t about the number of sources, and “excellent” is too vague for students. Be specific and descriptive.
Example of an analytic rubric for a final paper
Example of a holistic rubric for a final paper, single-point rubric.
- Single Point Rubric Template ( variation )
- Analytic Rubric Template make a copy to edit
- A Rubric for Rubrics
- Single Point Discussion Rubric
- Mathematical Presentations Descriptive Rubric
- Math Proof Assessment Rubric
- Kansas State Sample Rubrics
- Design Single Point Rubric
Technology Tools: Rubrics in Moodle
- Moodle Docs: Rubrics
- Moodle Docs: Grading Guide (use for single-point rubrics)
Supplemental Tools with Rubrics in Moodle
- Google Assignments
- Turnitin Assignments: Rubric or Grading Form
- DELTA – Rubrics: Making Assignments Easier for You and Your Students (2/1/2022)
- DePaul University (n.d.). Rubrics. Retrieved from http://resources.depaul.edu/teaching-commons/teaching-guides/feedback-grading/rubrics/Pages/default.aspx
- Gonzalez, J. (2014). Know your terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics. Cult of Pedagogy. Retrieved from https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/holistic-analytic-single-point-rubrics/
- Goodrich, H. (1996). Understanding rubrics. Teaching for Authentic Student Performance, 54 (4), 14-17. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec96/vol54/num04/Understanding-Rubrics.aspx
- Miller, A. (2012). Tame the beast: tips for designing and using rubrics. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/designing-using-rubrics-andrew-miller
- Ragupathi, K., Lee, A. (2020). Beyond Fairness and Consistency in Grading: The Role of Rubrics in Higher Education. In: Sanger, C., Gleason, N. (eds) Diversity and Inclusion in Global Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-1628-3_3
Social Work Toolbox: 37 Questions, Assessments, & Resources
This may be because of its unlikely position, balanced between “the individual and society, the powerful and the excluded” (Davies, 2013, p. 3).
Social work is a unique profession because of its breadth and depth of engagement and the many governmental and private organizations with which it engages.
Not only does it help individuals and groups solve problems in psychosocial functioning, but it also attempts to support them in their life-enhancing goals and ultimately create a just society (Suppes & Wells, 2017).
This article provides a toolbox for social workers, with a selection of assessments and resources to support them in their role and career.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Strengths Exercises for free . These detailed, science-based exercises will help your service users realize their unique potential and create a life that feels energizing and authentic.
This Article Contains:
6 best resources for social workers, top 17 questions to ask your clients, 2 assessments for your sessions, social work & domestic violence: 7 helpful resources, our 3 favorite podcasts on the topic, resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.
Demanding professions require dedicated and supportive resources that transform social work theory into practice. The following worksheets and tools target some of the most challenging and essential areas of social work (Rogers, Whitaker, Edmondson, & Peach, 2020; Davies, 2013):
“Understanding emotion arises from the combined consciousness of how we perceive emotions and use our intellect to make sense of them” (Rogers et al., 2020, p. 47).
For social workers, emotional intelligence is invaluable. They must develop and maintain awareness of both their own and their client’s feelings and use the insights to select appropriate interventions and communication strategies without becoming overwhelmed.
The Reflecting on Emotions in Social Work worksheet encourages social workers to stop and consider their feelings following an initial client visit.
In the worksheet, the social worker is guided to find some quiet time and space to reflect on:
- How do I feel about my initial visit?
- What are my thoughts regarding the purpose of the visit?
- How do I think I can proceed with developing a relationship with the client?
- How do I think the client feels about my visit?
Being self-aware is a crucial aspect of social work and will inform the ongoing relationship with the client.
Mirror neurons fire when we watch others performing an action or experiencing an emotion. They play a significant role in learning new skills and developing empathy for another’s experiences (Thomson, 2010).
Social workers must become more aware of service users’ experiences, as they can influence and affect the interaction with them.
Use the Fostering Empathy Reflectively worksheet to improve the understanding of your own and others’ emotions and increase the degree of empathy.
Observing others can make social workers more aware of human behavior and the emotions and thoughts underneath to increase their capacity for empathy.
Reflecting on situations encountered on the job can help social workers fully consider their own and their clients’ thoughts and feelings before drawing conclusions. Indeed, “successful reflection emphasizes the centrality of self-awareness and the capacity for analysis” (Rogers et al., 2020, p. 64).
Use the Reflective Cycle for Social Work to reflect on events, incidents, and behaviors in a structured and systematic way (modified from Gibbs, 1988).
Challenging social interactions
Good communication skills and confidence in social interactions are essential for social work. There will be times when you need assertiveness to challenge others to ensure the client’s needs are met (Rogers et al., 2020).
However, like all skills, social skills can be learned and maintained through education and practice.
The Preparing for Difficult Social Interactions worksheet considers how a situation or event may unfold through focusing on the essential issues.
Practice and role-play can help social workers prepare for a more successful social interaction and gain confidence in their coping abilities.
Motivational Interviewing in Social Work
“Change can become difficult for service users when they are ambivalent about the extent to which the change will be beneficial” (Davies, 2013, p. 451).
One method used by social workers to explore their clients’ intrinsic values and ambivalence is through motivational interviewing (MI). MI has four basic principles (modified from Davies, 2013):
- Expressing empathy Displaying a clear and genuine interest in the client’s needs, feelings, and perspective.
- Developing discrepancy Watching and listening for discrepancies between a client’s present behavior and values and future goals.
- Rolling with resistance Avoiding getting into arguments or pushing for change.
- Supporting self-efficacy Believing in the client’s capacity to change.
The Motivational Interviewing in Social Work worksheet uses the five stages of change to consider the client’s readiness for change and as input for selecting an appropriate intervention (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1986; Davies, 2013).
The client should be encouraged to create and implement a plan, including goals and details of the specific tasks required.
Rogers et al. (2020) identified several fundamental values that social workers should be aware of and practice with their service users, families, and other organizations with which they engage. These include:
- Honesty and integrity
The Respectful Practices in Social Work worksheet encourages reflection on whether a social worker remains in touch with their values and the principles expected in their work.
Social workers should frequently think of recent examples of interactions with clients, families, and other organizations, and ask themselves (modified from Rogers et al., 2020):
- Were you polite, courteous, warm, and approachable?
- How well did you accept people with different beliefs and values from your own?
- Did you attempt to understand the person and their history?
- Were you professional, open, honest, and trustworthy?
- Did you treat each person equally, providing fair access to your time and resources?
A regular check-in to ensure high standards are being maintained and values remain clear will ensure the continued professionalism expected from a social worker.
The following questions provide practical examples; practitioners should tailor them according to timing and context and remain sensitive to the needs of all involved (Rogers et al., 2020; Suppes & Wells, 2017; Davies, 2013).
Open questions encourage the respondent to reflect and respond with their feelings, thoughts, and personal experiences. For example:
- What is your view of what happened?
- What has it been like living with this issue?
- How could we work together to find a good solution?
- What are your greatest fears?
Typically, closed questions are used to find out personal details such as name and address, but they can also provide focus and clarity to confirm information. Closed questions are especially important when dealing with someone with cognitive impairment or who finds it difficult to speak up, and can lead to follow-up, open questions.
- How old are you?
- Are you in trouble?
- Are you scared?
- Do you need help?
Hypothetical questions can be helpful when we need the service user to consider a potentially different future, one in which their problems have been resolved. Such questions can build hope and set goals. For example:
- Can you imagine how things would be if you did not live with the fear of violence?
- Where would you like to be in a few years after you leave school?
- Can you imagine what you would do if a similar situation were to happen again?
“Focusing on strengths helps to move away from a preoccupation with risk and risk management” and builds strengths for a better future (Rogers et al., 2020, p. 243). Strengths-based questions in social work can be powerful tools for identifying the positives and adopting a solution-focused approach.
- Survival – How did you cope in the past?
- Support – Who helps you and gives you support and guidance?
- Esteem – How do you feel when you receive compliments?
- Perspective – What are your thoughts about the situation, issue, or problem?
- Change – What would you like to change, and how can I help?
- Meaning – What gives your life meaning?
Awareness of strengths and past behaviors can help the client arrive at positive solutions and hope.
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Interventions in social work are often described as having four stages: engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation (Suppes & Wells, 2017).
The assessment stage typically involves:
- Collecting, organizing, and interpreting data
- Assessing a client’s strengths and limitations
- Developing and agreeing on goals and objectives for interventions
- Selecting strategies appropriate to the intervention
Assessment is an ongoing process that typically focuses on risk. It begins with the referral and only ends when the intervention is complete or the case closed.
Assessment will need to be specific to the situation and the individuals involved, but it is likely to consider the following kinds of risks (Rogers et al., 2020; Bath and North East Somerset Council, 2017):
General risk assessment
Risk management does not remove risk, but rather reduces the likelihood or impact of problematic behavior. Risk assessments are performed to identify factors that may cause risky behavior or events (Davies, 2013).
- What has been happening?
- What is happening right now?
- What could happen?
- How likely is it that it will happen?
- How serious could it be?
The wording and detail of each will depend on the situation, client, and environment, guided by the social worker’s training and experience.
Assessment of risk to children
A child’s safety is of the utmost importance. As part of the assessment process, a complete understanding of actual or potential harm is vital, including (modified from Bath and North East Somerset Council, 2017):
- Has the child been harmed? Are they likely to be harmed?
- Is the child at immediate risk of harm and is their safety threatened?
- If harmed previously, to what extent or degree? Is there likely to be harm in the future?
- Has there been a detrimental impact on the child’s wellbeing? Is there likely to be in the future?
- Is there a parent or guardian able and motivated to protect the child from harm?
Social workers must use professional judgment to assess the level of risk and assure the child’s ongoing safety.
Assessment process – Oregon Department of Human Services
The figures related to domestic violence are shocking. There are 1.3 million women and 835,000 men in the United States alone who are physically assaulted by a close partner each year (NASW, n.d.).
The NASW offers valuable resources to help social workers recognize the signs of existing domestic violence, prevent future violence, and help victims, including:
- Women and Domestic Violence – implications for social work intervention
- The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study – effect of mothers’ and children’s exposure to domestic violence
- We can help end domestic violence – information on how the White Ribbon Day Campaign is raising awareness of domestic violence
SocialWorkersToolBox.com is another website with a vast range of free social work tools and resources. This UK-based website has a range of videos and educational toolkits, including:
- Exploring Healthy Relationships: Resource Pack for 14–16-Year-Olds
- Parents’ Guide: Youth Violence, Knife Crime, and Gangs
- Family Meetings: Parents’ Guide and Templates
- Preventing Bullying: A Guide for Parents
Many of the worksheets are helpful for sharing with parents, carers, and organizations.
Here are three insightful podcasts that discuss many of the issues facing social workers and social policymakers:
- NASW Social Work Talks Podcast The NASW podcast explores topics social workers care about and hosts experts in both theory and practice. The podcast covers broad subjects including racism, child welfare, burnout, and facing grief.
- The Social Work Podcast This fascinating podcast is another great place to hear from social workers and other experts in the field. The host and founder is Jonathan Singer, while Allan Barsky – a lecturer and researcher – is a frequent guest. Along with other guests, various issues affecting social workers and policymakers are discussed.
- Social Work Stories Podcast hosts and social workers Lis Murphy, Mim Fox, and Justin Stech guide listeners through all aspects of social work and social welfare.
Social workers should be well versed in a variety of theories, tools, and skills. We have plenty of resources to support experienced social workers and those new to the profession.
One valuable point of focus for social workers involves building strengths and its role in solution-focused therapy . Why not download our free strengths exercise pack and try out the powerful exercises contained within? Here are some examples:
- Strength Regulation By learning how to regulate their strengths, clients can be taught to use them more effectively.
- You at Your Best Strengths finding is a powerful way for social workers to increase service users’ awareness of their strengths.
Other free helpful resources for social workers include:
- Conflict Resolution Checklist Remove issues and factors causing or increasing conflict with this practical checklist .
- Assertive Communication Practicing assertive communication can be equally valuable for social workers and service users.
More extensive versions of the following tools are available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit© , but they are described briefly below:
Commitment and self-belief can increase the likelihood of successful future behavioral change.
The idea is to commit yourself to making a positive and effective change by signing a statement of what you will do and when. For example:
I will do [goal] by [date].
- Cognitive Restructuring
While negative thoughts may not accurately reflect reality, they can increase the risk of unwelcome and harmful behavior.
This cognitive psychology tool helps people identify distorted and unhelpful thinking and find other ways of thinking:
- Step one – Identify automatic unhelpful thoughts that are causing distress.
- Step two – Evaluate the accuracy of these thoughts.
- Step three – Substitute them with fair, rational, and balanced thoughts.
Individuals can then reflect on how this more balanced and realistic style of thinking makes them feel.
- 17 Strengths-Finding Exercises If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop their strengths, check out this collection of 17 strengths-finding tools for practitioners . Use them to help others better understand and harness their strengths in life-enhancing ways.
Society and policymakers increasingly rely on social workers to help solve individual and group issues involving psychosocial functioning. But beyond helping people survive when society lets them down, social workers support them through positive change toward meaningful goals.
Social workers must be well equipped with social, goal-setting, and communication skills underpinned by positive psychology theory and developed through practice to be successful.
Reflection is crucial. Professionals must analyze their own and others’ emotions, thinking, and behavior while continuously monitoring risk, particularly when vulnerable populations are involved.
The nature of social work is to engage with populations often at the edge of society, where support is either not provided or under-represented.
This article includes tools, worksheets, and other resources that support social workers as they engage with and help their clients. Try them out and tailor them as needed to help deliver positive and lasting change and a more just society.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Strengths Exercises for free .
- Bath and North East Somerset Council. (2017, June). Risk assessment guidance . Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://bathnes.proceduresonline.com/chapters/p_risk_assess.html
- Davies, M. (2013). The Blackwell companion to social work . Wiley Blackwell.
- Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods . Oxford Further Education Unit.
- National Association of Social Workers. (n.d.). Domestic violence media toolkit . Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.socialworkers.org/News/1000-Experts/Media-Toolkits/Domestic-Violence
- Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1986). Toward a comprehensive model of change. In W. R. Miller & N. Heather (Eds.) Treating addictive behaviors: Processes of chang e. Springer.
- Rogers, M., Whitaker, D., Edmondson, D., & Peach, D. (2020). Developing skills & knowledge for social work practice . SAGE.
- Suppes, M. A., & Wells, M. A. (2017). The social work experience: An introduction to social work and social welfare . Pearson.
- Thomson, H. (2010, April 14). Empathetic mirror neurons found in humans at last . New Scientist. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627565-600-empathetic-mirror-neurons-found-in-humans-at-last/
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Thanks so much for including the Social Work Podcast in this article. One correction: Allan Barsky is a frequent guest, but Jonathan Singer is the founder and host.
Hi there Jonathan,
Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention! We are delighted that you are reading the blog as we are fans of your podcast as well.
We will adjust this right away so we can give credit where credit is due 🙂
Thanks for all that you do!
Kind regards, -Caroline | Community Manager
Petra, it does not hurt to see this information again. Some social workers are new at their jobs and can always benefit from hearing this info repeated. If you want to hear from social workers only, then encourage your peers and or colleagues to write this stuff from their perspective.
This article is demeaning and patronsing! As social workers – we have done our (at least) 4 years at uni and this stuff is social work 101. As psychologists – I find you often think you know best and can “tell” other professionals how to do their jobs. So – if you want to write something to social workers – get a social worker to write it! Petra van Vliet – proud and loud social worker
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How To Write A Case Study Report In Social Work?
Social work is one of the most important branches or streams of study for students in Australia as well round the world. The subject has gained so much important now a days that even reputed colleges and universities of Australia are offering graduation as well post graduation degree courses on social work study subject.
The institute assign students with large assignments on social work during the courses. In this blog we will discuss about some useful tips to write an excellent case study report on social work to get the top grades by impressing your faculties.
Tips To Write an Effective Case Study Report in Social Work
- Choose an interesting subject: First, you need to choose a very interesting and updated subject for your social work case study. Some such subjects might be domestic violence, corruption, women empowerment, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, etc.
- Do an in-depth analysis: After that, you need to have an in-depth analysis of the chosen subject or topic. You need to explain each and every fact related to that topic. No fictions should be there only try and current fact will be accepted from you.
- Treat delicate matters likewise: A study on social work is one of the most delicate types of studies in the whole world. Thus, you need to write your report by treating the matter as seriously as possible by avoiding all types of fluffy languages.
- Carry out extensive study and researches: You always need to do a very extensive study and research while writing your case study report on social work. You need to keep note of all the legal, social as well as political status of the country, territory, or region on which you are doing your social study.
- Write only true facts: It is always necessary for you to write only true facts in your case study. Writing wrong facts can be very harmful on your paper. You always need to depict a very true picture of the scenario.
- Know how you can help others: The ultimate aim of your social study work is to help the people of your society. Each class of people suffers from particular issues or problems. You need to deal with their issues likewise to solve their problems. Thus, you always need to know the right methods to solve various problems of the suffering people.
- Give proper solutions: You always need to given proper solutions to the suffering people of your society to overcome their problems. These solutions must be strictly within the legal limits of your nation. You need to keep in mind that people are truly benefited by the suggestions and solutions provided by you in your social work case study report.
- Give a picture of future success: In your case study report on social work you need to depict a true picture of your social work project succeed in the long run and how it will benefit people at the concluding part.
- Always give a proper introduction and conclusion: The introduction and concluding part of your social work case study report is of high importance. The first impression is made on your faculties from the introductory part. If your concluding part is interesting enough, it will create an everlasting good impression on your reader faculty. Thus, you are bound to get good grades.
- Carry out long surveys: The subject of social work us very much related to practical surveys and studies. Thus, you need to conduct a lot of surveys among the people of the society to know about their real problems in life and look for effective solutions for them.
- Take expert consultation: It is advisable for you to seek the consultation and help from any social service expert to write an ideal case study report. You need to do it under the supervision of an expert social worker for this purpose.
- Study the reports of various NGOs: There are a number of NGOs or non-government organisations involved in various social study works. You can go through their published reports in order to get an idea of how to do a proper social work with true success.
What Common Mistakes to Be Avoided While Writing a Case Study Report?
There are certain common mistakes all of you need to avoid while writing a case study report on social work or any other subject. Some of these are listed below:
- Often many errors are present in the case study paper. You always need to remove these errors by proper proofreading and editing of the papers. Manual checking is preferred in this regard rather than any error detecting software.
- You always need to avoid plagiarism in your report work. You can also use any kind of updated and advanced plagiarism checking software technology in this regard in order to make your paper a hundred percent plagiarism-free
- Always submit all your case study papers before the deadlines. If you cross the deadlines, your paper will come under the defaulter list and you will lose your grades
- Try to complete all your assignment papers within specified time frames
- Do not repeat any idea more than once in any of your case study papers. Add new ideas with to the point explanations. This will make your paper more interesting.
How to Avail the Case Study Report Writing Services?
Writing a good case study report on social work is not an easy task. Thus, you always need an expert help in this regard. You can get the best case study report on social work writing help from the most reputed C aseStudyHelp.com online organisation.
We have a team of best writers having a lot of experience in social service case report writing field. Thus, all the students can always expect the best service from them. You can avail our services very easily by registering online on the C aseStudyHelp.com official website on the internet. We are always here to provide the best solutions for social work cases study report writing.
Here is a video for How To Write A Case Study Report In Social Work? You should watch this:
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Case Study for Social Work
First and foremost, the social work case study is grounded in the specific social work approaches, theoretical concepts, and values. The researcher should gather the solid evidence to construct the adequate case study on the basis of observations, interviews, relevant scholarly literature, document reviews. Case studies also reveal the researcher’s subjective views and positionality as well as outcomes and conclusions. Depending on the subject and object of research, one might organize the different structure of case study.
Case Study Example
The subject of analysis that frames the research could be an event, person, place, or some phenomenon. The case study for social work is usually conducted to deal with clients who need the adequate treatment and social services. For instance, when the social worker evaluates the history of subject’s disease, one should carry out the thorough study of patient’s habits, lifestyle, family relationships. In the beginning, one provides the background history of the subject that is related to the conditions and nature of interview held by the researcher. One indicates his/her name, marital status, place of living as well as offending history if necessary. If the client underwent alcohol or drug abuse, the researcher should highlight the history of addiction and possible treatment in the health care centers.
In the middle of the case study, the social worker designates the client’s situation in details taking into account the interview. The social worker needs to describe how the subject experienced the problems and which future challenges one had to struggle with. For instance, the client could specify how he handled with the alcohol or drug abuse and which measures he had to take in order to alleviate the problems.
Afterwards, the researcher should provide support to the subject and clearly indicate which services and advice the client received. One should offer the list of appropriate agencies that might cover the client’s needs and help to resolve the issues. The social worker also might provide the specific programs that the subject could pass in order to ease and eliminate the problems. While writing about the outcomes, one should indicate how coworking with health care centers and social work agencies helped the subject or failed to deal with addiction or any problem.
In conclusion, one summarizes the interview and provides the need for further analysis of the specific problem in the social work field. One should underline the importance of the research problem and complexity of the problem analyzed in the study. The researcher might add own reflections on the topic digging deeper into the research problem.
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