Using culturally relevant case studies to enhance students’ learning: a reflective analysis of the benefits and challenges for social work students and academics

Prospera Sorviel Tedam


‘Internationalising the curriculum’, ‘multi-cultural education’, ‘culturally sensitive’ education, and ‘culturally competent teaching’ are terms often used to describe teaching and learning which provides opportunities for learning about multiple and diverse contexts in which specific aspects of knowledge can be applied. In social work education, there is a growing call for an international outlook in teaching and practice learning to enhance the experiences of learners and also to prepare graduates for working in a global context. Using a case study approach, this article will explore the particular experiences of a student of Zimbabwean origin and the adoption of an African focussed example used to facilitate the particular student’s learning. In particular, Bandura’s Social Learning Theory (1977) will be discussed drawing upon themes and ideas from Africa with the aim of demystifying and making accessible social work theory to a diverse student group. The paper concludes that the use of culturally relevant case studies is an effective and beneficial strategy to engage a diverse student group and calls academics to make creative and innovative use of their skills, knowledge and expertise in the area of social work pedagogy.


African students; international social work; cross-cultural education; social work education; social work theory

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