Reflections of Evan Burke – student essay prize winner

First off, I am very grateful to the Groupwork journal for this opportunity. As for some background, I am a novice groupworker, though I do have some experience on which to draw in terms of facilitating groups. For a number of years I have undertaken a voluntary facilitation role with an Irish charity that supports people who are experiencing depression or related mood disorders. This has taught me the importance of language and the way in which things are said, in communicating effectively and positively with people. Managing a group while having the ability to allow the group progress in an unhindered way is one of the challenges of facilitation. I feel that it is the members who drive the group forward while the facilitator must be alert to keep it on track. While on MSW placement, I gained further experience in planning and facilitating psychoeducational group sessions with hospital service users, community support and information group sessions with service users and family members and behavioural family therapy sessions.
As a long-time teacher of English as a second language, I have worked in group settings with diverse groups of people. The ability to build rapport over a short period of time is necessary in that work, while assessing and evaluating student abilities requires observant and perceptive interaction. On a practical level, teaching has enabled me to develop skills in designing plans that react in an appropriate fashion to situations as they arise.
When asked to plan and facilitate a psychoeducational group session, I decided to do a practice learning enquiry on the experience. This involves looking into a practice situation and posing a question so to explore and reflect on its implications for practice development. I asked myself how my previous experience working with groups transfers to facilitating a hospital-based mental health group. It was while engaging with the learning enquiry that I realised how grounded the planning, preparation, format and actual facilitation of the group session were in my teaching experience. Teaching has taught me the importance of having a lesson plan. The plan can be used to remind the teacher of stages, procedures and timing and this transferred well into a group session plan. Another advantage of the plan is that it allows you to structure the session in such a way that a flow is clear to you and the participants, while it also allows you to visualise how the session might run and progress from stage to stage. Having a plan brings a sense of comfort with it so that as questions arise the facilitator can answer them without losing their own flow. This realisation prompted me to draw connections between the two disciplines and research further the teaching methodologies I employ to analyse how they informed my facilitation of the group session, this formed the basis for the essay.
While winning the competition was unexpected, it is an honour to have my essay make a good impression on those who had the difficult task of judging the entries. Groupwork is of course a practice that requires much on-going personal and professional development. Nonetheless, I hope that my paper can show that all novice groupworkers have something to bring to their practice. Hopefully this suggestion might have a calming effect on the nervous novice facilitator and then on the group as a whole. I look forward to reading the other papers published alongside my own.

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Student essay competition winners

We are pleased to announce the winner of the Groupwork Journal’s student essay prize.  The winner is   Evan Burke whose essay ‘From lessons to sessions: How does second language teaching experience translate to psychoeducational group facilitation?’ was considered the winner by the judges.  Evan was a student on the Masters in Social Work at the University College Cork, Ireland when he wrote is essay.

Highly commended papers were written by:

  • Samantha Bryan & Elizabeth Marshall who are studying for a BSc (Hons) in Occupational Therapy at Sheffield Hallam University, England.  Their essay is entitled ‘Facilitating Group work in an Extended Scope Placement’
  • Colette Gallagher is a second yearstudent on BSc (Hons) in Integrated Practice in Learning Disability Nursing & Social Work at Salford University,    Her essay is entitled ‘Social Work and Professional Development:  A Critical Reflection about Group work’ 
  • Lorraine Kessler completed her paper as part of her Bachelors in Social Work at the University of Maine USA – ‘Respect Detectors: A Support and Educational Group Engaging LGBTQ Activists to Prevent Violence  in Their Community’ 
  • Rosa Wright is studying in her third year on the BSc (Hons) Integrated Practice – Learning Disability Nursing and Social Work at University of Salford, England wrote and excellent literature review ‘To what extent are people with intellectual disabilities (ID) active partners in focus group research?’ Please note: As a literature review this paper doses not meet the criteria of the award, which writing about direct practice.

These papers will form a Special Issue of Groupwork  in the near future.

If you are interested in the 2017 Groupwork Student Essay Competition – details can be found at  Groupwork Student Essay Prize 2017












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Student essay prize 2016

We are are happy to announce the second Groupwork Essay Prize of $100.00. Practitioners in training are invited to submit an essay or paper on any aspect of their practice of groupwork. Content may include: using groups to generate new knowledge; acquire and sustain new skills; develop new meanings for old adages. Any student on a first degree or masters program may submit an essay or paper (maximum 5,000 words) for the prize.

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Groupwork in the Classroom – Call for Papers

 Call for papers for a Special Issue of Groupwork in 2015

Groupwork in the Classroom

Editors Amanda Taylor and Tim Kelly

The Editorial Board of Groupwork intends to publish a Special Edition which will focus on the role of groupwork in teaching, learning and assessment in the global classroom. The articles should demonstrate the theory and practice of groupwork, and acknowledge the diversities in the global classroom in terms of the learner and educator population, languages, cultures, learning needs, styles and abilities.

We invite you to submit full papers that critically address the use of groupwork in all aspects of education and may include:

  •  teaching and/or the training of educators to teach and assess in a multicultural, multilingual, or otherwise diverse classroom;
  • learning among a diverse learner population, learners with diverse learning abilities, or learners with special learning needs;
  • innovative teaching and/or assessment methods; and
  • assessing learners’ content knowledge skills, participation in community projects and other learning outcomes.

We welcome theoretical papers, case studies, papers based on studies in progress, and critical and reflective accounts of experiences of groupwork in educational practice. If you are interested in submitting an article or would like to discuss an idea before submission, please email Amanda Taylor or Tim Kelly.

Deadline for full paper submissions: 1 January 2015. All submissions will go through the journal’s normal refereeing process.

Address and contact details for this special issue of Groupwork:

Amanda Taylor


Or Prof Tim Kelly

School of Education, Social Work and Community Education, Dundee Univesity, Dundee, Scotland

Telephone +44 (0)1382381404

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Student Groupwork Essay Contest

Whiting and Birch Publishing are happy to announce the Groupwork Essay Prize. Practitioners in Training are invited to submit an essay/paper on any aspect of their practice of groupwork. Content may include: using groups to generate new knowledge; acquire and sustain new skills; develop new meanings for old adages.

Any student on a BSW or MSW programme may submit an essay/paper (maximum 5,000 words) for the prize. The winner will be announced at IASWG Calgary 2014. Support and mentoring in the writing process if required will be offered to writers displaying talent and passion for groupwork.

The editors of Groupwork journal will review the shortlisted essays for publication. In addition a prize of $100 will be offered .

Groupwork journal values the work with groups that is undertaken in the diverse contexts in which student practitioners operate. We wish to showcase this work to promote the generation of knowledge and the application of groupwork.

For details of how to enter and the judging criteria please visit the Whiting and Birch website

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Luis Lowy – an inspirational groupworker

Luis Lowy, an early groupwork leader, resisted the Nazis the in the most powerful way he could…preparing jewish children for a future.
What can we do as groupworkers do to resist injustices and evils today?

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Welcome to the  Groupwork Editors’ Blog
Groupwork is the only British-based journal specialising in social applications of groupwork. This peer reviewed, international journal  includes articles on all the settings in which groupwork is practised. Our articles span health care, nursing, occupational therapy, staff development, mental health, counselling, child care and education, youth and community work, social work, and criminal justice.

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