Pedagogy of Collegiality: A Case Study in Doctoral Education Background: Doctoral education in social work does not have the

same curriculum content requirements or subject to accreditation by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), as are baccalaureate and master’s programs (Reid & Edwards, 2006). This reflects doctoral education’s orientation to academia and research over that of practice, and permits a certain level of creativity and flexibility in program design and pedagogy. Regardless of content, debate persists over how social work education at all levels can facilitate critical thinking and promote deep learning persists (Entwistle, 2007; Gregory & Holloway, 2005). This paper examines the pedagogy of collegiality (Chavez et al., 2006) as an approach to social work doctoral education. This teaching style embodies a mutual learning among instructors and students that contrasts with the traditional top-down approach to learning. Some advantages of a collegial pedagogy are that it recognizes various sources of expertise, promotes active participation and learning, and provides professional socialization. In addition, it exemplifies social work values including empowerment and mutual respect (NASW, 1999), and mimics healthy client-provider relationships. The effectiveness of a collegial pedagogy will be considered within the context of doctoral social work education, as well as its application to social work education more generally. Methods: Through a case study approach (Aita & McIlvan, 1999) of a doctoral course entitled, ‘Teaching in Social Work,’ students critiqued the course’s underlying pedagogical approach. The course ostensibly addressed the teaching of evidence-based practices, but focused more on the experiential process of teaching and learning. Using specified principles (Boettcher, 2007), the students and professor engaged in dialogue about the design of the course and its effectiveness as a learning environment. Several characteristics of the course are of particular interest. First, the course was taught by the dean of the school, which heightened both the real and perceived power

differential between students and instructor. Second, the course used an ‘emerging syllabus’ so that the content and structure of the course was not apparent at the outset. Third, the issue of grading was left as an open discussion throughout the course, both for teaching in general and within the course itself. Lastly, the course examined the teaching of evidence-based practice (EBP), a topic heavily debated within the field (Mullen et al., 2006). Results: The class critique based on Boettcher’s learning principles revealed both strengths and challenges. The strengths of the class included: examining various learning styles through the use of the Kolb inventory and self-reflection papers; exploring academic resources including training on accessing library databases and collaborating with professors from other institutions; and facilitating independent projects that can contribute to scholarship via academic journals and/or professional conferences. Challenges within the class included: shifting priorities and expectations; lack of clear objectives and focus; non-traditional learning environment and role assignment. Based on this critique, consensus was reached that underlying the course was a pedagogy of collegiality. The themes that most clearly emerged from this pedagogical approach were: 1) power differential and its impact on the learning environment; 2) expectations of students and teachers need to be identified and discussed throughout the course; and 3) ambiguity can serve both as an inhibiting and facilitating factor (sometimes simultaneously) to learning. Conclusion: There are challenges to a collegial approach, particularly when there are real and perceived power differences between teacher and student. Teachers must be willing to relinquish a degree of power while students must become prepared to accept it. In addition, this approach may be more challenging, and perhaps inappropriate, in certain subjects or courses where students need more direction. Still, pedagogy of collegiality offers a useful approach for schools of social work, especially in doctoral education in which many students already have a wealth of experience and knowledge.

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