Program Design as Authentic Assessment in Social Work Education

Reflecting on a Teaching Collaboration Between Social Work and Design Academics


  • Patrick O'Keeffe RMIT University


Authentic assessment, Social work education, Service design, Human-centred design, Reflective practice


This article reflects upon the creation of authentic assessment in a core unit in a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) program at an Australian University. This unit was the outcome of a collaboration between design and social work academics, and was delivered by teaching staff from these two faculties. Students were introduced to human-centred design as an approach to program design in social work. This article reflects upon the first iteration of this re- developed unit, focusing analysing the authenticity of learning activities and assessment tasks. Authentic assessment incorporates real-world practices and contexts, cognitive challenges, reflexive practice, and promotes students’ critical analysis of their own work (Ajjawi et al., 2019, pp. 3–4). I use Ajjawi et al.’s (2019) framework to analyse the re- development of this course in relation to authentic assessment, highlighting its strengths and limitations as an authentic learning experience. In addition, I use my reflection upon the collaboration between social work and design academics to make suggestions on how design can be incorporated into social work education.

Author Biography

Patrick O'Keeffe, RMIT University

Social and Global Studies Centre, RMIT University, GPO Box 2476, Melbourne, Victoria 3001, Australia


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