Student writing and social justice education: lessons from one BSW writing workshop

Gherardi et al. / Social Work Education: The International Journal / November 2020

diverse group of students sitting at table

Challenges associated with teaching and assessing writing are widespread in higher education. The adverse effects of failing to meet traditionally held standards for writing are felt disproportionately by students of color, as well as first-generation and low-income students. This reality presents challenges and opportunities for social work educators who seek to advance the representation of these groups within the profession, while ensuring that students graduate with the writing skills necessary for effective practice. In this paper, the authors reflect on data and faculty experiences collected from one undergraduate writing workshop that was implemented in order to provide students with additional writing instruction and feedback while integrating principles of social justice education. Lessons learned include the importance of opportunities for practice and feedback within dominant models of written expression while simultaneously facilitating critical reflection and dialogue around writing expectations among faculty and students. Code-switching is advanced as a potential framework to advance these efforts.