Faculty of Education and Social Work

Growing Research in Practice (GRIP)

Find out more about the Growing Research in Practice (GRIP) project.

How much research is undertaken at the front line of social work practice? What are the impediments to research as a feature of practice? How can research undertaken in practice settings inform good social work practice? How can we grow the use of evidence in practice settings?

These questions stimulated the GRIP project. The project began as an initiative by by academics from Massey University and the University of Auckland: Christa Fouché, Neil Lunt, Liz Beddoe and Phil Harington to invite social workers from a variety of agency settings to attend a workshop where we outlined a strategy to support research undertaken by practitioners. Deborah Yates joined the team as project manager and Glenda Light as a ‘critical friend’ and adviser on practitioner perspectives.

It concerned the researchers that there was a low profile of research activity in the local social work practice. In conversation with senior practitioners prior to GRIP, the following points were noted:

  • A low research base exists in New Zealand across a range of fields of practice (level)
  • There was a lack of practitioner confidence in undertaking and making use of research (confidence)
  • That practitioners expressed interest in hearing more about small-scale practitioner research (commitment)
  • There was a broader gap in theoretical understanding around how practitioners make use of research findings and incorporate ‘evidence’ into their work and decision-making (uptake)

As a result the GRIP programme sought to generate debate and skill development within the discipline that could improve the readiness of practitioners to undertake research and for social services to see research as a key part of the contribution they can make to the wellbeing of the client’s communities and staff. The programme developed a collection of resources and culminated in a symposium where practitioners presented their research.

To boost the work and resources required to support the project the GRIP researchers gained support from: The Families Commission's Innovative Practice Fund, the Ministry of Social Development's SPEaR Linkages fund and the ASB Trusts in partnership with the ANZASW. The University of Auckland Faculty of Education and Social Work Research Fund and The University of Auckland Staff Research Fund have also provided generous support of the programme to date.

The research team has published an initial outline of the GRIP project in Social Work Review and presented at national and international conferences. A series of publications have been completed.