As exemplified below, practice research is especially important in a field education context:
Practice research can help students understand and acknowledge the role of theories, methodologies, and processes in practice. Practice research can provide students with the skills to examine and discover the various theories and methodologies that inform interventions and approaches in diverse practice contexts. Additionally, students can engage in the iterative process of critical examination, reflection, and engagement in collaboration by exploring different perspectives, uses, and outcomes attached to social work theories and methodologies.
Practice research can assist students in reflecting and understanding relationships within different contexts, concepts, and theories in social work practice. The process of practice research combines the experiences and knowledge of service users and social work practitioners. Advancement and growth is only realized through constant re-evaluation and innovation.
Through integrating practice research into field education, students understand the various processes of generating knowledge. Through field education, students can begin to understand what practice research looks like when it is operationalized: practice research on a continuum, Research As Daily Practice, research-mindedness, and evidence-based practice.
Along with the benefits, there are also some challenges with practice research in the field of social work.
There is often a lack of recognition and understanding of appropriate research methods and of the complexity of research processes in academic, practice, or community initiatives in social work education and practice (Potter et al., 2006).
Administrative and organizational frameworks are often operated under boundaries to enforce and establish order, which may conflict with the ability for a practitioner to understand and focus on the issues within practice research initiatives (Uggerhoj, 2011b). As an example, there is often a lack of financial resources for academia and practicing partners, often influenced by institutional or cultural factors, as well as institutional funding protocols and non-standardized policies (Potter et al., 2006). Not only are there influences in the practice research process, the administrative, political, or local organizations overseeing practice research initiatives have the authority to alos influence the interpretation and application of the research, which may vary depending upon politicians, local authorities, and municipalities involved (Uggerhoj, 2011a).