Conversation Analysis

David discussed what he has learned from applying Conversation Analysis to audio recordings of social work supervision – about CA as a method, about decision-making and reflection in supervision, and about the wider potential for applying CA to observations of social work practice.

Quantitative Coding of Observations of Practice

Donald spoke about a programme of research that developed and implemented a quantitative coding system for key social work skills, based on insights from Motivational Interviewing. The aim was to find links between skills and outcomes and understand better factors that might improve worker skills. He considered the successes, limitations, and potential future developments for such an approach to directly observing practice.

Ethnographic and Mobile Methods

There is increasing interest in research into social work that gets close enough to practice to produce understandings of what goes on between social workers and service users. Over the past decade Professor Harry Ferguson has done several studies that have used participant observation and developed ethnographic and mobile research methods that get as close as possible to short and long-term social work practice. 

 Exploring Social Work, Social Care and Young Carers in Longitudinal Cohort Studies

Dr Morag Henderson & Dr Sam Parsons rich longitudinal cohort data sources in the United Kingdom are world leading; they follow the lives of thousands of people across the four-nations from birth [or early adolescence] to death. This session introduced these studies, including the Millennium Cohort Study, Next Steps, British Cohort Study and National Child Development Study as well as point you to other useful secondary datasets to explore these topics. After introducing you to these datasets and the relevant variables included within them, they presented some research case studies of published research using these data (e.g. the ‘Predictors of Social Service Contact Among Teenagers in England’) and new, work in progress, results which examines the experience of care leavers who became parents and whether there is evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma. These case studies demonstrated the power of secondary data and showcase applied statistical methods. There was a discussion of some of the limitations of using quantitative secondary data in research.

Analysis of Routinely Collected Administrative Data

Social work research in Wales and England has traditionally had a preference for qualitative data and case-based designs. However, over the past decade there has been more interest in using quantitative methods, stimulated by the increasing availability of high quality administrative data that is collected by local authorities and returned to government departments. Drawing on research undertaken by researchers at Kingston University with the national datasets for children in need and children looked after in England, I will outline some of the possibilities and limitations of working with administrative data, give some examples of methods and findings, and discuss some of the ethical issues associated with this emerging field.