A systematic review of critical thinking skills in social work
Problem statement: The very nature of social work, especially when it comes to the protection of vulnerable groups such as children, requires of social workers to act timeously and make radical decisions to serve the best interest of vulnerable clients, sometimes without much information. Professional social work practice further requires social workers to analyse, assess, interpret, communicate, evaluate and intervene on a continuous basis. Underlying these skills is the ability to think critically. Further research to explore the factors and skills that can enhance critical thinking in social work education and practice can greatly enhance efforts to develop these skills among social workers. Aim: The aim of this study was to systematically review literature on all aspects related to critical thinking in social work. The general goal of the study was to explore the level of critical thinking present among social workers and to explore guidelines for the enhancement and further development of critical thinking skills among social workers. Methodology: This study involved a systematic review as this design is considered helpful for locating, appraising and synthesising the evidence that is available in the literature on a certain matter. In this case, the aim was to answer the question: What factors or skills contribute to critical thinking in social work? Boland, Cherry and Dickson’s (2017) ten steps were used to guide the review process. Results and discussion: The results of this review indicate that the development of critical thinking skills should be a crucial component of social work education to enhance social work practice. A number of themes emerged from the nine studies included in this review. The emerging themes include the following factors and skills: self-awareness, education and learning/sources of knowledge, decision making, reflection, technology and socio-economic status. Conclusion and recommendation: The results of this review highlight specific themes related to the skills required in the development of critical thinking in social work education and practice and other factors that affect critical thinking. These factors and skills can guide relevant key role players in social work education and the broader welfare sector.
- Health Sciences