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Professional Socialization

Where Process and Content Converge in the Classroom

Professional Socialization

Shari Miller

Assistant Professor, UGA School of Social Work

Date: April 2, 2014

Location: MLC Reading Room


Shari Miller, a 2013 Richard B. Russell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching winner, was recognized for employing innovative pedagogies that draw on her research on curricular improvement in the social work discipline. Her workshop invites participants to enter the social work education environment where they will be briefly introduced to the culture of the profession. Within this context, Miller will emphasize the integration of content and process in the college classroom, demonstrating why the idea of balancing the two must be reconsidered. When utilizing this approach in the classroom, Miller has found her students inspired to “own their learning" by pressing beyond the strong desire for passive reception of content and moving toward meaningful interaction with material—often, this involves students asking rich questions that invite the class as a whole to think more deeply and to develop their interpersonal, communication skills and their thinking skills. As these attributes are essential to social work in practice as well as general human interaction, many students contact Miller after leaving her courses (and the University) to convey their appreciation for her willingness to allow them to learn how to learn. Of course, such an approach would require any instructor to maintain both high energy and responsiveness. Being always at the ready can present some challenges, however, Miller finds the approach “invigorating and empowering for my students, but also for myself.” Her workshop will rely on discussion and experiential activities to highlight the importance of process as content, and the utility of reflexivity, empathy, and meta-cognition in the learning environment.

About the Speaker

Shari Miller joined the University of Georgia School of Social Work as an assistant professor in 2008. Prior to receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 2008, Miller practiced as a social worker in New York City in a variety of settings, with a primary focus on the delivery of individual, family, and group mental health services to a diverse population of children, adolescents, and adults. Miller teaches courses in both the BSW and MSW programs with a particular focus on theory, social work practice, and introduction to social work and social welfare history. Miller's research interests include the professional socialization of social workers, social work education, field education and supervisor training, the culture of the profession, ethical decision-making, critical thinking, and ecological issues.