“What Are They Banging On About?”: The Student Experience Of DRUMBEAT As A Field Education Groupwork Activity
Keywords:Field education, Social work placements, DRUMBEAT, Rural, Service learning
Field education plays a significant role in social work education in Australia. Providing students with a valuable and enjoyable field education placement experience is inherently complex, with multiple players and competing demands. In 2016, the Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health (BHUDRH) introduced DRUMBEAT as a student-led groupwork activity for social work service learning placements in far west New South Wales, Australia. This paper outlines findings of a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews and fieldnotes to understand the experiences of social work students facilitating DRUMBEAT and determine its value for continuation as a service-learning field education activity. Students’ lived experiences of facilitating DRUMBEAT were understood in three stages: training, organisation, and delivery of DRUMBEAT and two emergent themes: professional value and personal reward. Students readily identified DRUMBEAT as relevant to their learning journey and future practice. Challenges enabled them to develop a stronger professional identity. Students enjoyed DRUMBEAT and developed self-awareness and confidence through their experience. A valuable placement activity both nourishes students as people and challenges them professionally. The BHUDRH can confidently continue to incorporate DRUMBEAT in its service-learning placements as an experience that has relevance for social work practice while providing a valuable service within host organisations.
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