Year 2: Narrative Case Study & Book Review

In the second year of the DSW writing program, students work to complete two case studies and a book review.  One case study, the pragmatic narrative, writes to a theory and seeks to theoretically delimit and define the object of study; students write to confirm or disconfirm a theory.  The second case study, the analytic narrative, does not write to a confirmatory answer and instead writes to a question and seeks to theoretically complicate the received understanding of the object of study.

The book review portfolio product requires students to relate contemporary practice experience to an established scholarship. The review is not a simple ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ summary of books but a lengthy essay situating practice experience alongside three major authors that have contributed to the field of practice the student works in everyday. Students are expected to select and review three books and demonstrate a transdisciplinary and critical practice point of view.

Students will continue work on their annotated bibliography, as it progressively grows outward with more module material, scholarship, and research, all intertwining with students’ own portfolio products.

The second year writing practicum builds upon the first year foundational writing skills in two main components: case study and book review modules, in which students read and discuss sample texts from both a clinical and a writing focus, guided by clinical and writing faculty, along with a dedicated integrative seminar, in which students conduct peer writing workshops with assigned faculty consultants.  A writing instructor and clinical faculty member rotate among peer group workshops during each 3-hour module, to facilitate and assist students in further developing and finishing their portfolio products.

Peer writing workshops will be structured around and focused on the six elements of the case study–the essential aspects of the various portfolio products, the basic ingredients of all scholarly work.  They are:

  1. The object of study (what)
  2. The framing question (context)
  3. The case material (evidence)
  4. The transdisciplinary thought (connective thinking)
  5. The insight (why)
  6. The narrative (how)

The object of study focuses on compelling aspects of clinical experience and client life experience and events.  From the client point of view, these would likely be cognitive, behavioral, or emotional experiences and traumatic, family, or work events (i.e., any relevant life event).  On the other hand, the social worker is paying investigative attention to the commitments they make when engaging and intervening in a client’s life, including clinical theory.  The framing question situates the object of study in context; in doing so, the student embraces a person-in-environment perspective.  Case material is drawn from a student’s practice and is the primary data from which the object of study and the framing questions are defined.  Transdisciplinary scholarship is built into the Writing Practicum, Foundation and Clinical curricula and is used to form new thoughts through connective thinking that examines the object of study and framing question from multiple perspectives (e.g., humanities, anthropology, psychology, sociology, social work, economics, and political science, etc.).  Insight comes via the process of placing the object of study in context; it’s not a component that gets added, it’s what emerges during the process of exploring the object of study in the provided context.  Students don’t know at the beginning why their case study is important, but at the end of the process, they should.  The narrative element pays attention to the way the case study is written, including the standard craft elements of authorial control of the thesis and exploration or argument, word choice, sentence structure, paragraphing, organizational clarity, and also the compelling and seamlessly integrated use of creative hooks, transitions, characterization, setting, scene, dialogue, and tone/mood.

Next: Year 3