The Possibilities for Studio Pedagogy in Social Work Field Education: Reflections on a Pilot Case Study


  • Belinda Johnson RMIT University
  • Melissa Laing RMIT University
  • Charlotte Williams RMIT University


Studio pedagogy, Field education, Design thinking, Co-design, Interdisciplinary practice


Studio pedagogy takes a situated approach to Higher Education learning that is used in many discipline areas but, as yet is little explored in social work. Studio pedagogy sees collaborative groups using design thinking and co-design to approach real-world problems and their resolution in new ways. The collaboration and resourcefulness required in studio work reflects the social work ethos. Also, the studio skills base of interdisciplinary work and creative thinking are contemporary workplace requirements for social workers. This suggests the usefulness of studio learning in social work education. In this article we introduce the concept of a social work studio as a possible new form of project-based social work field education. We reflect upon a case study pilot project undertaken by RMIT, Melbourne with a major partner agency. Drawing on a consultation with the key stakeholders, our reflection on practice suggests the integration of design enquiry offers considerable potential to advance methodologies of field education in ways that better equip students to respond to some of the challenges of contemporary practice.

Author Biographies

Belinda Johnson, RMIT University

Social Work & Human Services, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Melissa Laing, RMIT University

Social Work & Human Services, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies

Charlotte Williams, RMIT University

Social Work & Human Services, School of Global, Urban and Social Studies


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