The theory circle: A tool for learning and for practice



Collingwood P, Emond R & Woodward R (2008) The theory circle: A tool for learning and for practice. Social Work Education, 27 (1), pp. 70-83.

Social workers have grappled for many years now with the tension between theory and practice. The struggle may be to bridge a perceived gap between the academic knowledge base of social work and the complex realities of practice. Equally, it may be to move from common-sense interpretations of human need and professional responses, towards a more informed and accountable approach to practice. In recognition of the challenges faced by social work academics, practitioners and students, in relation to applying theory to practice, two of the authors of this paper developed a model, which aimed to facilitate productive discussions between practice teachers and students about the nature of theory and its link to practice. In addition, the model was designed to promote partnership approaches where service users participate fully in identifying their own issues and in shaping the services they receive. This paper describes the model--The Theory Circle--and reflects upon its effectiveness, based on the views of 19 practice teachers from central Scotland. The findings suggest that the pictorial model is one that practice teachers and students find accessible and valuable; it helps them to build a theoretical understanding of service users' situations and to work alongside service users to agree the most appropriate methods of intervention. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved) (from the journal abstract)

Practice Learning; Theory; Practice; Integration; Process; Partnership

Social Work Education: Volume 27, Issue 1

Publication date29/02/2008
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom

People (1)


Dr Ruth Emond
Dr Ruth Emond

Associate Professor, Social Work