Pathways from Personal towards Professional Values: Structured Small-Group Work with Social Work Students


EDUCATION AS CHANGE, vol.23, 2019 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 23
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.25159/1947-9417/4418
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


This qualitative research was based on structured small-group work conducted with 34 undergraduate social work students. It aimed to reveal students' understandings of their personal values and modes of evaluation, their views regarding the value base of social work, and the possible influence of their personal values on professional practice. The data was collected through a semi-structured questionnaire, self-reflective diaries and a semi-structured focus-group discussion. During the study, it was seen that the students had difficulties when talking about their personal values. Yet, whenever they did talk about them, they saw that their values were actually not their own, but were socially constructed by the dominant cultural and moral norms. Prejudices based on the hegemonic cultural codes and norms, hidden in the form of personal values, are the biggest handicaps in the development of a professional identity. Thus, the values of social work are extremely important because they allow social workers to work professionally with all people without exception or discrimination and to promote human rights. This study showed that educational settings must be transformed so that students may express their own values without being judged. Arts-based techniques like creative drama have a great potential to achieve this goal. Therefore, social work education should benefit from creative and critical ways to prepare students for the profession, which aims to protect the value of humans.