Overview of the BSW Learning Circles Curriculum
The BSW Learning Circles curriculum is an innovative, multi-modal and flexible
approach to delivering undergraduate Social Work education. The BSW Learning
Circles curriculum adapts core BSW academic content and groups it into four major
non-sequential theme areas considered important for social work practice in rural,
remote, and Aboriginal communities. Represented in a circular format, this model for
curriculum delivery has come to be known as the BSW Learning Circle.
Theme areas making up the Learning Circle include Generalist Practice in Context;
Communication & Information; Diversity & Oppression; and, Social work Methods. Each
theme area includes a Theme course and a related Portfolio Project. Each Theme
course is the equivalent of two University courses and consists of 8 learning units or
modules including Orientation and Integration and Summary modules. Each module
includes approximately 20 hours of student-centred learning activities. Student learning
is assessed based on completion of learning activities within each module as well as
through completion of several integrative assignments. Among the unique features of
the Theme Courses are local applications modules that provide opportunities for elders
and local resource people to present a local perspective on issues addressed in our
Accompanying each Theme Courses is a related Portfolio Project that challenges the
student to integrate his or her professional and lived experience (including learning from
the theme course) into a reflective project involving supported independent study.
Students may elect to register for full-time studies (involving at least the Theme Course
and related Portfolio Project) or part-time studies. Full-time students can complete the
BSW Learning Circles curriculum in approximately two calendar years.
Beginning in the Fall of 2005, approximately 20 to 25 students registered in our Virtual
site will begin their journey around the BSW Learning Circle. Students complete Theme
Courses and Portfolio Projects during Fall and Winter sessions.
In Fall 2005 we will offer the Social Work methods Theme area. The Social Work
Methods Theme Course focuses on the building and use of social work relationships
and includes modules that address:
• Beliefs, Values and Perspectives relating to Professional Relationships
• Cultural Competence & Empowering Relationships
• Building Relationships
• Assessing Resources & Planning Change
• Activating Resources and Expanding Opportunities
• Evaluation and Integrating Gains
The Social Work Methods Portfolio Project asks students to integrate their learning in
the development and analysis of a case situation.
Next, in Winter 2006 we will offer the Generalist Practice in Context theme area.
Included the theme course are two modules focusing on generalist Social Work Practice
(History, Assumptions, Components), one that addresses values and ethics, as well as
other contextually focused modules addressing generalist practice in rural, northern,
aboriginal communities. In the related Portfolio Project students will be asked to
articulate their emerging model of practice.
In Fall 2006 students will proceed to the Communications & Information theme area. In
the Theme course students will learn a variety of knowledge generation approaches
including contextually sensitive interviewing methods. In the related portfolio project, an
inquiry based learning process unfolds where students are asked to develop a research
proposal to study a research question of interest to them.
In Winter 2007 we will offer the Diversity & Oppression theme area. The Theme course
addresses topics relating to colonization, human development, diversity, social policy,
social action and local applications. In the Portfolio Project students are asked to
explore issues oppression drawn from their personal and professional experience.
Students generally complete option courses during the spring or summer terms and
may take them at one of our on-campus locations or online. Students holding a
recognized Alberta Social Work Diploma are required to complete two social work
options courses, while all other students are required to complete three social work
options courses during their program of studies.
Students are eligible to enter the field education portion of their program following
completion of all Theme Courses and related Portfolio Projects. The Learning Circle
curriculum offers two practica (SOWK 400 and 402). Each practicum is 360 hours in
duration. Students normally complete all of their practicum hours in one agency setting.
Students planning to enter practicum are expected to negotiate their placement setting
well in advance. Students will be expected to consider relevant personal or practice
backgrounds, their learning needs, areas of interest, and meet with the organization to
negotiate their learning activities. Subject to certain conditions, students may also
complete their practicum in their workplace. Flexible scheduling (involving attendance at
practicum ranging from 2 to 5 days each week) may also be negotiated between the
student, agency, and Faculty. A key consideration in the approval of any proposed
practicum is the availability of local social work practitioners who may be trained to act
as field instructors.
Student participating in the field education component are also required to attend a 36-
hour integrative seminar. The seminar is delivered online using synchronous or real
time audioconferencing via Centra and Blackboard based discussion forums and
learning activities. Students holding a recognized Alberta Social Work Diploma are
required to complete one 360 hour practicum, whereas all other students must complete
two practica or 720 practicum hours.
This completes our overview of the BSW Learning Circles curriculum. For further
information concerning any of our programs, please consult our website or contact the
designated Student Services Coordinator for your area.