In recent decades, Europe has witnessed an academisation trend in social work. In the Netherlands, this is apparent among other things in the introduction in 2008 of a Master's programme in Social Work, at the initiative of the professional association and trade association for social workers, as well as higher education institutions. With this Master's programme, these organisations wanted to contribute to the quality of social work by training social workers to develop professional practice on the basis of academic knowledge. It was generally believed that a specific approach to professional practice development, arising from nursing and called Practice Development (PD), might be appropriate in this context.
This PhD thesis investigates exactly what expectations the stakeholders had regarding the Master's programme in Social Work. It also examines how PD needs to be adjusted to accommodate social work, to what extent this adjusted form is already part of social work practices, and what else is needed. In addition, differences between Bachelor's and Master's level social workers are examined in an attempt to draw conclusions about the importance of the Master's programme in Social Work. One key conclusion is that the Master's programme in Social Work has a significant impact on the extent to which social workers underpin their practices with evidence, but also that they need to be given a suitable role or position.
Mariël van Pelt studied Political Science and completed the first-degree teaching qualification at Radboud University. She is a senior associate at Movisie, the national knowledge centre for tackling social issues, and a lecturer in Social Resilience at Fontys University of Applied Sciences. From 2006-2008, she was project manager and developer of the first Master's study programme in Social Work in the Netherlands. Until 2022, she worked as programme coordinator and later as head lecturer in this study programme at the University of Applied Sciences of Arnhem and Nijmegen. In her PhD thesis, she examines how the Master's programme in Social Work contributes to the professionalisation and, more specifically, academisation of social work.