Helena Belchior-Rocha (Iscte-Institituto Universitário de Lisboa (CIES)

Inês Casquilho-Martins – Iscte-Institituto Universitário de Lisboa (CIES); Luís Capucha – Iscte-Institituto Universitário de Lisboa (CIES)
Topic: Action-research: responding to contemporary challenges in Social Work
Language: English 


Social Work goal of becoming both a scientific and professional discipline will only be effectively achieved when its action for the promotion of human rights, social justice and human dignity is based on procedures supported by scientific knowledge. Practice can be seen as a theoretical source as long as it is a reflective practice resulting from the evaluation of the work done and critical thinking. This is about not only using scientific theories and findings of other disciplines in practice, but also producing knowledge and theory in the course of practice. In addition to the practical utility in the professional performance, planning and evaluation have a cognitive utility, that require the ability to call upon and know how to use scientific theories and the methodological and technical tools of social research. But a question arises: how does one move from the call for reflection and critical attitude to an institutional and structured environment that ensures, in practice, such purpose?

Action-research enables the use of a methodology oriented towards social change in the face of identified social problems. Therefore, this presentation aims to share a proposal for Social Work training with the goal to strengthen the skills of students and professionals in the use of action-research methodologies, namely in planning and evaluation of activities. Thus, there are several contributions that Social Work can provide to the design and implementation of social policies when equipped with theoretical, methodological and technical skills in this field. This provides new generations of social workers with the theoretical and operational knowledge that previous generations had to learn in action, but which they can benefit from the very beginning. Simultaneously, this is also a way of leading to a more systematized and qualified practice, resulting in better responses and services for citizens, improving social welfare.