Learning and supervisory styles in the training of social workers

Lauren Wolfsfeld*, Muhammad M. Haj-Yahia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This research investigated the learning and supervisory styles among a population of supervisors (N = 133) and social work trainees (N = 333). Using Kolb's Learning Style Index, the study looked at the ways learning styles change over the course of a three-year BSW program, distribution of supervisory styles among the fieldwork supervisors, and similarities and differences in styles between the two respective groups. The approaches used by supervisors to adjust their style to accommodate the learning needs of individual supervisees were also investigated. The findings allow us to infer that the learning styles of the students are more varied among themselves upon the commencement of studies than upon completion of the social work degree. The supervisees tend to move toward the styles that are prevalent among social workers. Almost all of the supervisors exhibit styles congruent with the styles typically found among social workers. In addition, supervisors tend to stick to their "natural" supervision style irregardless of the learning style of the specific supervisee. However, in the instances in which adjustments were made, the supervisors favored a certain degree of contrast between their supervisory style and the learning style of the supervisee in the supervisory dyad. The limitations of the study as well as the implications of its results for future research are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)68-94
Number of pages27
JournalThe Clinical Supervisor
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded through grants by the Milton Rosenbaum, the Bertha Kaplan, and the Lucy and Salim Halabi Foundations.


  • Learning and supervisory styles
  • Supervision


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