Kumar (2005) defines a research design as a “plan, structure and strategy of investigation to obtain answers to research questions. As such a research design serves as a blueprint of how the research will be conducted and the variables used in the study (Kumar, 2005).
In their research, “Help or Hindrance? Outcomes of Social Work Student Placements”, the authors Barton, Bell & Bowles, (2005), aim to discuss and explore the economic and experiential advantages and problems of placing social work students in host agencies. The authors hypothesize that there are several benefits of placing students in host agencies and that’s the primary benefit included the experiential understanding and knowledge gained by way of counseling, research projects, evaluations, group tasks and the training received by them from staff members. The authors try to point that the costs of practicum are not substantial and that practical experience helps to benefit not only the supervisors but also the supervisors of social work students. Another important hypotheses proposed by the authors is the potential for the professional development of supervisors themselves through reflective practice. The research question and hypothesis proposed by the author fulfills the following criteria which research questions seek to achieve (Punch, 1998). The project is well organized with appropriate direction and coherence and has boundaries because it seeks information related to students seeking placements in host agencies, which enables to keep the researcher focused during the study. The necessary framework for writing the project is apparent through the research question (Punch, 1998).
Rationale for, or justification, of the study
The rationale or justification of the study is provided through the research objectives which also provide the immediate desired impact of the research activity by the researcher and its practical actions and outcomes (Neuman, 2006). In the study, the authors assert that human services like social work practice have become highly commercial activities as a result of which they are under pressure and are accountable to the trusts and bodies which fund them with regard to the objectives, their effectiveness and their utility of their resources. The authors state that most agencies consider student placements as unproductive and incapable of generating revenue. The authors also justify that “practicum” is an essential aspect of social work since it is believed to provide experiential learning and is beneficial not only to the student, but also to the supervisor in addition to other co-host workers participating in the practical training program. The rationale also provides researchers with activities which can be done or measured to achieve the desired objectives (Wendt). Accordingly, the study confirms that placements are a crucial bond between universities from where students learn and human service agencies where students will work as professionals. Most importantly, the authors state that the social work has tremendous opportunities, which is why students should gain practical education and field work in preparing students for experiences which will enhance their professional practice following their graduation, and this in turn will help supervisors through reflective practices.
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