A case study of a transformational experience? The impact of a European study visit on youth workers’ professional development and professional practice

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This paper analyses the impact of a European study visit that took place in 2016 and which aimed to enable a small group of youth and community work students to compare Youth and Community Work theory and practice in the host country and the UK. It was expected that students would gain experience and critical understanding of the theory and practice of youth and community work in the host country and that they would explore and analyse models of good practice in youth and community work. The case study examines the transformational impact of that visit on the youth and community work students and on their practice. The research takes a phenomenological approach and is based upon participant
observation, a critical analysis of student work, semi-structured interviews of students and student feedback. The research aimed to identify student’s learning from the experience, especially in relation to their personal and professional development, to examine how the study visit contributed to their course and their youth work practice. The main themes of the case study centred on the impact of students’ experiencing membership of a wider community of practice during the visit and the impact of the valorisation and values of youth and community work witnessed during the study visit. The key findings of the research suggested that a clear distinction between students situated, experiential and workbased learning may exist and that international study visits can be transformative and may have a transformative impact on youth work practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number04
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Open Youth Work
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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