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Social Work: Research Methods & Critical Thinking

What is Critical Thinking?

Critical Thinking is "the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action."

The Foundation for Critical Thinking. (2019). Defining Critical Thinking. https://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/defining-critical-thinking/766

"Social workers critically reflect on their practice, use analysis, apply professional judgement and reasoned discernment. We identify, evaluate and integrate multiple sources of knowledge and evidence. We continuously evaluate our impact and benefit to service users. We use supervision and other support to reflect on our work and sustain our practice and wellbeing. We apply our critical reflective skills to the context and conditions under which we practice. Our reflection enables us to challenge ourselves and others, and maintain our professional curiosity, creativity and self-awareness."

BASW The Professional Association of Social Work and Social Workers. (2020). Social Worker 6 - Critical Reflection and Analysis. https://www.basw.co.uk/professional-development/professional-capabilities-framework-pcf/the-pcf/social-worker/critical-reflection-and-analysis

6 Questions for Critical Thinking

  1. What is it?
  2. Where did you find it?
  3. Who has written/said this?
  4. When was it written/said?
  5. Why was it written/said?
  6. How do you know if it is good quality?

Aveyard, H., Woolliams, M., & Sharp, P. (2015). A Beginner’s Guide to Critical Thinking and Writing in Health and Social Care: Vol. Second edition. McGraw-Hill Education. p. 18-20.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

Vanderbilt University Center for Learning, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Research Methods

Qualitative: "generally uses interviews to explore the experience or meaning of an issue in depth. The results are presented using words."

Quantitative: "generally explores if something is effective or not, or measures the amount of something. The results are generally presented using numbers or statistics."

Mixed Method: "...use[s] more than one type of research."

Aveyard, H., Woolliams, M., & Sharp, P. (2015). A Beginner’s Guide to Critical Thinking and Writing in Health and Social Care: Vol. Second edition. McGraw-Hill Education. p.57.

Critical Thinking Resources