Study Skills for Health and Social Care Students


Juliette Oko & James Reid

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  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
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    About the Authors

    Juliette Oko is a Senior Lecturer and Associate Teaching Fellow at Teesside University. She teaches on the undergraduate programme in social work and is also the admissions tutor for the course. Her interests include teaching and learning and reflective practice. Prior to entering academia, she worked as a qualified social worker in the field of adults and mental health and children and families social work. She is also the author of the successful textbook, Understanding and Using Theory in Social Work, published by Learning Matters.

    James Reid is a Senior Lecturer in Childhood Studies in the School of Education and Professional Development at the University of Huddersfield. He is a registered social worker and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK. James has contributed to several textbooks on health and social care and social work, most recently on international perspectives of children and the law.

  • Glossary

    Accreditation of prior learning (APL)

    APL allows credit for previous learning and experience, usually in the form of an exemption from part of a course. This is normally assessed by learners providing evidence that they have met the learning outcomes of the module from which they want to be exempt.

    Active learning see learning.

    Active listening

    The word ‘active’ is used to emphasise that effective listening is a mental activity that requires effort and concentration (Williams, 1997, p47).

    Admissions tutor

    The person responsible for selecting successful applications to a particular course.

    Alternative Languages and Augmentative Communication Systems

    The recognition that not all people speak and not all body language is commonly used or understood throughout the world. Languages can be non-verbal, such as sign language, or alternative systems such as Makaton and image communication. Written communication can take the form of characters that are not the recognisable letters of the Roman alphabet, for example Braille and the Moon alphabet.


    The process of checking and marking your coursework. Depending on your course, assessments may include examinations, essays, project work, reports or a combination of any of these (see formative assessment and summative assessment).

    Assessment board

    Also known as an exam board, an assessment board is a meeting of the academic staff and the external examiners to agree the marks for each student (see award board and module board).


    The outcome or result of your course, including a degree, certificate or diploma.

    Award board

    A meeting of the academic staff and the external examiners to agree the award for each student or to agree that a student can progress to the next part of the programme. Award boards and assessment boards can occur concurrently.


    Bachelor of Arts (see Bachelor's degree and BSc).

    Bachelor's degree

    Undergraduate degree qualification awarded by the university. It can take the form of an ordinary degree (BA or BSc) or an Honours degree (BA(Hons) or BSc(Hons)).


    Bachelor of Science (see BA and Bachelor's degree).


    A financial grant given to eligible students by some PSRBs that doesn't need to be repaid.


    The university buildings and facilities in a particular location.

    Careers service

    Provides expert information and advice on career prospects, including help in developing a CV and finding work.


    Qualifications usually leading to the Certificate of Higher Education. A certificate is issued following the completion of a one-year course.

    Communication skills

    These include verbal, written, presentational, non-verbal, individual and group skills (see non-verbal communication and verbal communication).


    Skills and knowledge that are essential to perform the functions of the profession successfully.

    Core unit/module

    Course unit or module that is compulsory or required and must be completed successfully in order to gain an award.


    A piece of work you need to complete as part of your course.


    (Criminal Records Bureau) Enhanced checks are undertaken for all professional programmes where students are working with vulnerable adults or children to ensure their suitability for practice placements and protection of the public.

    Critical reflection

    see reflection.


    Typically three years’ full-time or four to six years’ part-time study, leading to the university award of Bachelor or Master.

    Degree classification

    The grading scheme for undergraduate degrees. Honours degrees can be first-class, upper (2:1) and lower (2:2) second-class, or third-class honours.

    Deep learning

    see learning.


    Many university faculties or schools are divided into departments, for example, Department for Social Studies. Students belong to the department that provides the course on which they are enrolled.

    DipHE/Diploma of Higher Education

    An award given for successfully completing two years’ full-time study at the university.


    A major written piece of work or research project undertaken in the final year of an undergraduate Honours degree course.


    European Computer Driving Licence - a scheme for assessing ICT competence.


    The process where students become registered students of the university. This must be done at the beginning of every year.


    A written piece of work on a particular topic.


    In contrast to values, ethics is more prescriptive and deals with what can be considered ‘right and correct’. Ethics represents guidelines or principles about the way professionals ought to behave, and many helping professionals have codes of ethics or codes of conduct to which members are expected to adhere and to which they can be held to account (see values).

    Exams officer

    The member of the academic staff responsible for collating all student results and presenting them to an exam board.

    Extenuating circumstances

    A procedure whereby students can ask for particular circumstances that may have affected their studies to be taken into account, particularly in relation to assessment (see mitigating circumstances).


    A collection of schools and departments in a university, for example, Faculty of Health and Social Studies.


    The range of feedback comments that you receive from your tutor/module leader and your practice teacher/mentor intended to aid your learning and facilitate improvement. This can refer to feedback in class following a learning activity; feedback on performance in your placement; feedback in an individual tutorial; as well as formative and summative feedback on your work (see assessment).

    Formative assessment

    Designed to provide learners with feedback on progress and inform development. A draft of your work that does not contribute to the overall assessment outcome (see assessment and summative assessment).

    Foundation degree

    Involves study at university or college and work-based learning. A foundation degree is completed at level 5 of the academic framework, that is, at the equivalent level to the second year of a Bachelor's degree.


    Student in the first few weeks of study.

    Freshers’ week

    A week of events and activities for new students before their studies; organised by the Students’ Union.


    Student who has completed his or her studies and who is awaiting graduation.


    Someone who has successfully completed a degree programme and who has completed graduation at the university.

    Graduation ceremony

    Takes place at the end of your studies; degrees are awarded. You will be able to invite a small number of guests.


    Halls of residence or accommodation for students.

    Higher education

    Post compulsory education. Higher education courses are usually studied at universities, university colleges and higher education institutions. They can also be studied at specialist colleges, for example, art and music, and some further education colleges.

    Honours (Hons) degree

    A full British undergraduate degree that usually requires completion of a final-year dissertation or research project and the achievement of 360 credits.


    Information and communication technology.

    Information literacy

    Your ability to recognise why information is needed, what information is needed, how to access this information and how to evaluate it (see Table 3.1 highlighting the SCONUL model).


    The process whereby students can have a break in their studies, usually due to unforeseen circumstances.

    IT help desk

    An important resource when dealing with your ICT needs; located in your university/college.


    At higher education level, deep approaches to learning are encouraged. Learning is about understanding the subject material and promotes long-term retention of the information that can be applied in the ‘real world’. It represents an active approach to managing your learning coupled with a motivation to understand the subject. In contrast, surface or superficial learning concentrates more on the ‘here and now’. This approach to learning tends to promote rote learning or the memorisation of key facts or information, but fails to link the new material to the wider picture.

    Learning outcomes

    What a student is expected to know and demonstrate at the end of a particular module. Learning outcomes should then be assessed by the summative assessment associated with the module of study.


    A presentation on a particular subject or topic given by a member of the academic staff to a large number of students. Generally, students listen and take notes.

    Lecturers (or tutors)

    Lecturers and tutors are members of the university academic staff and are responsible for teaching and learning and helping students with their studying.


    Level 4 refers to the first year of a university course, level 5 to the second year and level 6 to the third year. Part-time students will take longer to complete each level than full-time students. Postgraduate courses begin at level 7.


    The vocabulary necessary to communicate in any context. The wider your lexicon, the better the potential outcomes for your studies and practice.


    A mnemonic for motivate, acquire, search, trigger, exhibit, reflect. A useful strategy to help you develop your thinking skills.

    Master's degree

    A postgraduate academic degree awarded by a university upon completion of at least one year of prescribed study beyond the Bachelor's degree.

    Mature student

    A student who is 21 years of age or over.

    Mitigating circumstances

    A procedure where students can ask for particular circumstances that may have affected their studies to be taken into account, particularly in relation to assessment (see extenuating circumstances).


    A unit of study that is worth a number of credits, for example, 10, 15, 20 or 30 credits. Typically students undertake 120 credits in a year so the number of modules you study depends on the credit value, for example, six modules of 20 credits each equals 120 credits.

    Module board

    A meeting of the academic staff and the external examiners to agree the marks for each student.

    Module leader

    The lecturer responsible for the delivery, assessment and review of a module of study.

    Module specification/guide

    Details of the module or unit of study which is provided by the module leader outlining what will be covered during the course of study; the learning outcomes associated with the module; how students will be assessed in their learning; and further reading/reading lists.

    National occupational standards (NOS)

    A set of requirements for which you are required to demonstrate competence in relation to your practice placements over the duration of your studies.

    Non-verbal communication

    Anything other than words or utterances that are used to convey a message or meaning. This involves body language, including posture, gestures and expressions and even how you dress (see verbal communication).


    National Union of Students. On enrolment you will be issued with an identity card that acts as your student union card.

    Off-site practice assessor/tutor/mentor

    Someone who supports you on work placement but who is not based in the same agency. This person works with another member of staff within your placement to offer support and guidance and to assess your competence against the national occupational standards (see practice teacher).

    Option unit/module

    Course unit that is chosen by the student from a number of alternatives.

    Ordinary degree

    A Bachelor's degree awarded for the achievement of approximately 300 credits.


    A period of relevant work experience designed to give students an opportunity to meet the requirements for the programme and the national occupational standards.


    Citing someone else's work in your written work and failing to acknowledge it through proper referencing or acknowledgment. Academically, this is cheating and even committed inadvertently is still an offence. In the most serious of cases, this can result in a student's studies being terminated.


    Study that is beyond first degree level or Bachelor's level, and leads to a higher qualification such as a Master's degree or Doctorate.

    Practice teacher/assessor/mentor

    A qualified practitioner within your placement to offer support and guidance and to assess your competence against the national occupational standards.


    Set of units that lead to an award. Sometimes referred to as a course.

    Programme leader

    Member of academic staff responsible for managing the programme or course you are studying.


    Public Statutory Regulatory Body, a quasi governmental agency with responsibilities for regulating professionals and their practice, including registration of professionals.


    A structured approach to thinking that looks back on an experience or event that has occurred. It is a cognitive activity that involves the mental process of selection, attention and analysis in order to develop or deepen our understanding of something and therefore enhance our capacity to know or do something (action) differently in the future.

    Reflective practitioner

    Being able to demonstrate your learning about professional practice during your placements in health, social welfare or educational settings. To be reflective in your placement settings is, therefore, about how you demonstrate your learning from this experience - it transforms an experience into knowledge because your experience has been of benefit to you and as a result you can show evidence of learning from it.


    You may be required to register with the PSRB. Registration is also the term used by the university at enrolment. You will need to register for your course at the beginning of each academic year.


    Small-group teaching, led by a tutor/module leader where students are expected to come prepared to participate and share their learning and understanding, following private study and reading which has been set by the tutor.

    Service user or user of service

    Those members of the public with whom you will work when on placement or in employment.


    An approach to reading and study that involves the process of survey, question, read, recall and review.

    Summative assessment

    Assessment designed to be used to determine grades or marks (see assessment and formative assessment).


    Provides a vital role in supporting and managing your practice while you are on placement. It should be an educative and supportive process, supporting you in your learning and understanding of your professional development.

    Surface learning

    see learning.

    Teaching and learning strategies

    The range of teaching and learning activities that are used in your programme to help engage you in your learning and support your understanding of the subject matter, for instance, case studies, group work, lectures and seminars.


    A period of study in the academic year, for example, from October to December.

    Tuition fees

    Money paid each year by students to enrol or attend a course.

    Tutor or lecturer

    A member of staff who is responsible for teaching and learning and helping students with their studying.


    A study session during which an individual, or small group, meets with a tutor in order to discuss work, progress or general course issues.


    A student who is studying for a Bachelor's degree. Someone who has already been awarded a degree from a university is known as a graduate.

    Undergraduate degree

    A course of study or programme of research leading to a Bachelor's degree.


    A shortened name for the Students’ Union.


    Representative of general preferences and which shape our beliefs and attitudes. They tend to represent what can be described as good and desirable or worthwhile. They influence behaviour and have an affective quality as well; that is, they have an impact on our emotions. Professional bodies also tend to have a set of professional values to which members are expected to practise (see ethics).

    Verbal communication

    This includes words and utterances. We convey meaning through pitch, tone of voice, volume and speed of speech, or noises (see non-verbal communication).


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    The following bodies regulate social work in the devolved countries: Care Council for Wales. Northern Ireland Social Care Council. Scottish Social Services Council. College of Social Work. Nursing and Midwifery Council: the nursing and midwifery regulator for England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the islands. National Youth Agency: works in partnership with government, private and voluntary sector organisations to support and improve services for young people. Royal College of Nursing: represents nurses and nursing, promotes excellence in practice and shapes health policies.

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