Social Work


Spring 5-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Type of Paper/Work

Banded Dissertation


Mari Ann Graham


Through this banded dissertation, I view teaching social work as a form of social work practice and employ a constructivist framework to engage in a process of self-awareness and critical thinking. I contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning through three individual products as I explore how to strengthen congruence between my constructivist teaching-learning philosophy and my teaching practice.

Product one is a conceptual article where I argue that discerning and understanding the philosophy underpinning one’s personal beliefs about how teaching and learning occur is crucial for coherent and effective teaching practices. I present constructivism as one philosophy that may resonate with social work educators and situate constructivism within a social work classroom to explore the parallels between a constructivist learning environment and social work practice.

Product two is a qualitative self-study that examines the impact of course structures on the development of a constructivist learning environment. Undertaken in a social work classroom, this study highlights opportunities to develop course structures that support congruence between teaching philosophy and teaching practices. Findings suggest that course structures do impact the development of a CLE, and that too many predefined structures impede the instructor’s ability to decenter control.

Product three is an evaluation of practice that employs Grise-Owens et al.’s (2018) guide for an activated teaching-learning philosophy to evaluate the co-creation of an MSW practice assignment as one example of an activated constructivist philosophy. The primary purpose of the evaluation was to share what I learned as I intentionally sought to engage in a constructivist teaching practice.

Collectively, the three banded dissertation products contribute to a gap in literature regarding the congruence between teaching-learning philosophies and teaching practices. Developing congruence between teaching practices and beliefs about learning may improve classroom structure and positively impact students’ learning. Reflecting on my own beliefs and practices as a social work educator, I examine congruence through the lens of constructivism, thereby, also offering it as a viable philosophical approach to social work education.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

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Social Work Commons