Tara Earls Larrison
Tara Earls Larrison earned her MSW from Boston College in 1993 and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. She has advanced training in marriage and family therapy from the Kantor Family Institute in Cambridge, MA.
Professor Earls Larrison has been a social work educator for more than twenty years, beginning her career as a field practicum instructor for BSW interns. She has been affiliated with the University of Illinois since 2001, where she has held appointments at the School of Social Work and the Center for Teaching Excellence. Her responsibilities have focused on curriculum development, accreditation and pedagogical evaluation, and in teaching undergraduate and graduate students, as well as mentoring graduate teaching assistants. Before coming to Illinois, she was clinical faculty at the University of Georgia, School of Social Work and served as the Director of Foundation Field Education from 1996-2001.
Research and Practice Interests
As an educational researcher, Dr. Earls Larrison’s work broadly focuses on understanding the intersection of the inquiry into and pedagogy of practice for professional education. She is interested in the conceptualization and development of theoretical and philosophical frameworks related to scholarly teaching. In particular, her work aims to understand the conditions that enhance transformative learning and growing processes, and how these contribute to practitioner development, professional identity, and practice competency. Her scholarship has focused on understanding how professional use of self is a necessary and fundamental component of social work, and as such, requires that its pedagogies focus on the person of the practitioner as signature to the profession.
Professor Larrison teaches the Introduction to Social Work course to more than 250 enrolled students each year. She has consistently been named to the Illinois “list of teacher’s ranked excellent”, and in 2008 was recognized with a “Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching” by the Office of the Provost.
“I love teaching our Intro course! It is a great opportunity to showcase the humanistic principles that model professional social work practice and service. I aim to make the material relevant to students across a variety of academic disciplines by impacting them in cognitive and affective ways and encouraging them to take responsibility for their own learning. My teaching methods guide students toward challenging their assumptions and in developing their social empathy. Students emerge from my course not only “thinking and acting like social workers”, but consistently tell me that the course empowered them to understand themselves and each other better.”
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