Kenta Asakura, School of Social Work

Experiential learning allows students to “learn by doing.” Experiential learning is especially suited for a social work program, in which graduates are expected to provide ethical and competent services to clients from marginalized communities.

The use of human simulation, a pedagogy that involves professional actors to come into the classroom as “clients,” began in medical and other health professional programs. Simulation is now widely used in teaching students to integrate theory and practice across social work programs, including here at Carleton.

As an instructor, I develop a detailed case study based on my own clinical practice, hire and work with actors to refine the client characters and their circumstances. In the classroom, the actor comes in as a client, and students take turns to interview the client, while other students observe the client-­‐worker interaction. Each student engages the actor/client for approximately 10minutes. At that point, the actor and the counselling session are stopped. I then facilitate a class discussion to assist the students to engage in reflection. All other students are expected to provide the student worker with constructive feedback, and to discuss the linkage between theory and practice. This process is repeated throughout the class period, so that other students also have the opportunity to take the role of a worker. In the end, the client/actor offers student social workers constructive feedback and suggestions for further professional development from the perspective of a client.