Work Shop on Agency-University Collaboration


Bruce Grellong, Chief Psychologist, Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, New York, NY

Research as an Act of Practice


Juliet Cheetham, Director, Social Work Research Center, University of Stirling, Scotland.

Dr. Cheetham Proposed that social workers must be able to comment with authority on the impact of their intervention. Evaluating the effectiveness of practice poses many challenges and needs to be undertaken by both academics and practitioner-researche rs. She suggested that much can be accomplished through small, highly focused and carefully designed studies of actual practice. Dr. Cheetham reported on research undertaken by 40 social work practitioners from a variety of public and voluntary agencies i n partnership with the Social Work Research Center at Stirling University in Scotland, These practitioner-led initiatives were conducted over the past three years through the Practitioner Research Program. Their studies provided rich information directly related to agencies' interests. Dr. Cheetham encouraged replication of the program, which provides an example of practitioners as researchers defining their own research agenda while drawing on the skills of university-based colleagues. The ownership of t he studies by practitioners makes research an act of practice rather than a remote, academic endeavor.

Agency-University Collaboration: The Center for Practice Innovations


David E. Biegel, Henry D. Aucker Professor of Social Work Practice, Coordinator, Center for Practice Innovations, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH; Mary Jane Cole, Social Services Coordinator, catholic board of Education Head Start Program, Cleveland, OH

The Center for Practice Innovations is one model of partnership between the university and agency communities. Dr. Biegel and Ms. Cole discussed obstacles that may inhibit partnerships and the ways they have addressed these in their work. They describe d the implementation of the Natural Supports Project, a quantitative survey of clients' social networks and mental health status. They identified the following as essential to building partnerships: 1) initiating contacts through which researchers come to understand practitioners issues and concerns; 2) assuring opportunities to know each other before working toward a product; 3) ensuring sufficiently long project time frames; 4) setting joint objectives; 5) establishing the need for researchers to develo p methodologies to access practitioners' expertise; 6)using a carrot(not a stick) approach to knowledge development for practice; and 7) applying flexible research methodology.