Winter 2014, Volume 50, No. 1
The Power of Organizational Readiness to Boost Success With 2008 EPAS in Social Work Education
Social work education is engaged in a significant evolutionary phase of its development spearheaded by the Council on Social Work Education and the 2008 edition of Educational Program Assessment Standards (EPAS). This paper suggests that an organizational change-anchored focus is a little discussed but ultimately important set of theories and frameworks that have potential to greatly impact successful EPAS implementation. Attention to the organizational change literature with specific focus on theories and models of organizational readiness for change, organizational resistance to change and finally, implementation science, might enhance the effectiveness and ultimately, impact of the positive opportunities associated with the new EPAS while simultaneously protecting and preserving the most important knowledge, ethics, values and traditions of social work education.
Distance Education and Organizational Environment
Jean East, Walter LaMendola, and Catherine Alter
As distance education models in social work education continue to grow, this study addressed prevalence and type of models in graduate social work programs, and the perceptions of deans about the future of e-learning models of curriculum delivery. The design was an exploratory sequential mixed methods including a national survey of 121 deans/directors, followed by group interviews of 15 deans. Findings are that web based technology for delivering social work courses is increasing and predicted to grow. Interviews documented the difficulties of transforming organizational environments. Recommendations for social work leadership include convening curriculum leaders in schools of social work to work together to further technology innovations and cross institutional research.
Operationalizing the Implicit Curriculum in MSW Distance Education Programs
Andrew Quinn and Anna Barth
Sixteen MSW distance programs provided insight into how the implicit curriculum currently exists within their programs. Overall, distance programs carried out the activities necessary for student development; the student population made for a more diverse learning community; and faculty were receiving training. There was still a heavy reliance on making contact with students using non-virtual space. In fact distance programs might not be taking full advantage of how technology can support virtual contact. There also seemed to be an absence of findings that distance programs are using technology to bring the explicit content in through various mediums. Throughout the discussion suggestions are provided for using technology to facilitate the manifestation of the implicit curriculum throughout the distance program.
Beyond Field Education: Leadership of Field Directors
Mindy Wertheimer and Mimi Sodhi
This article presents a conceptual model of the field director's role outside of field education, specifically in the following three areas of leadership: (1) curricular, (2) programmatic, and (3) institutional. An exploratory survey was conducted, and the results provide a broad overview of this leadership, including select individual and structural variables that shape the field director's input in these three leadership domains.
Mentoring Field Directors: A National Exploratory Study
Martha Ellison and Miriam Raskin
In social work field education mentoring is underutilized, and lacks research data. There is a paucity of research that examines the impact mentoring has on social work field directors who administer field programs at the undergraduate and/or graduate level. This exploratory study fills this void by examining the mentoring opportunities and experiences of field directors. The results show that there is a desire by field directors to receive assistance and collaborate with mentors on scholarly activities. Helpful aspects of mentoring include having a mentor who was supportive, gave advice on administering the field program, and provided strategies for success as a field director. Suggestions for future research on mentoring field directors are presented.
How Field Instructors Judge BSW Student Readiness for Entry-Level Practice
Tamara Sussman, Sacha Bailey, Katie Byford Richardson, Francine Granner
Social Work field instructors are responsible for the gatekeeping function of evaluating student performance and determining practice readiness. Yet, little empirical literature elucidates how field instructors of graduating BSW students judge competence, suitability, or readiness for practice. This qualitative study reports findings from 6 focus groups attended by 28 experienced BSW field instructors aimed at (a) exploring criteria used to judge student readiness for entry-level practice and (b) examining differences in expectations based on micro and macro placements. Two capacities emerged as being paramount in supporting the development of practice skills, personal attributes, and areas of practice in both micro and macro placements: conceptualization, and self-reflection. Implications for evaluating student competence and supporting student learning in the field are discussed.
An Evaluation of Pre-Practicum Helping Skills Training for Graduate Social Work Students
Annemarie Gockel and David Burton
Although foundational practice classes play a key role in helping pre-practicum students develop counseling skills, we know little about the effectiveness of this form of helping skills training. This study assessed the impact of helping skills training delivered in foundational practice classes on proximal indicators of counseling skills acquisition including measures of counseling self-efficacy, empathy, anxiety, and hindering self-awareness or rumination. Participating students made significant gains in counseling self-efficacy that were maintained at three month follow-up. Reductions in anxiety, rumination, and personal distress in interpersonally challenging situations were observed at follow-up, indicating that students made a successful transition to the field following training. The frequency of large group role plays in particular was related to gains in students' counseling self-efficacy.
Meeting the Critical Need for Trauma Education in Social Work
Virginia Strand, Robert Abramovitz, Christopher Layne, Howard Robinson, and Ineke Way
There is a growing imperative to prepare MSW social work students for trauma-informed evidence-based practice. Given strong recommendations and promising developments within social work education and practice in this regard, a clinical elective for the Advanced Year MSW student that combines the guiding principles of trauma theory and problem-based learning was created. This paper 1) describes the course learning objectives, its structure, and format and 2) reports on its evaluation based upon seven (total) offerings of the course by four different schools of social work. The course methodology was found to be effective in all schools in significantly increasing students self confidence in working with traumatized children, adolescents and their families. Implications for social work education are discussed.
Attitudes Toward Gay Men and Lesbian Women Among Heterosexual Social Work Faculty
Jill Chonody, Michael Woodford, David Brennan, Bernie Newman, and Donna Wang
This study reports results from a national internet-based survey administered anonymously to a cross-section of social work faculty in the United States. Drawn from a sampling frame of 700 accredited or in candidacy schools, data were collected between November 2010 and March 2011. We investigate the role of gender, sexual orientation, race, religious affiliation/beliefs, religiosity, political ideology, sexism and interest in sexuality/LGBTQ issues. Race, religiosity, political ideology and sexism are associated with sexual prejudice which was endorsed among a small percent (14%) of the sample (n=303). Outcome scores were not statistically different based on the targets' sex. Strategies are recommended to reduce sexual prejudice among social work faculty and to increase institutional support for acceptance in the academy.
Affirming Diversity, Difference, and the Basic Human Rights of Those With Whom We Disagree
My work in the area of spirituality and religion builds upon our profession’s proud history of expanding diversity to include previously marginalized groups. Each iteration of diversity, however, has been met with critiques implicitly designed to affirm the status quo. In this paper, I respond to criticisms that have been leveled against my attempts to foster a more inclusive profession. Topics addressed include underrepresentation, methodological rigor, institutional discrimination, and the challenge of respecting people with whom we differ. I conclude by noting that most social workers are invested in creation of an inclusive society and highlight the need for a new conversational model that affirms diversity, difference, and the basic human rights of those with whom we disagree.
Women Pursuing Higher Education in Ultra-Orthodox Society
Nehami Baum, Tova Yedidya, Chaya Schwartz, and Ofra Aran
The study reported in this paper concerns the beginnings of higher education for women in the Haredi (Ultra-orthodox) enclave in Israel. Haredi Jews are a self-secluded fundamentalist group committed to particularly strict interpretation of Jewish religious law. In recent years, they have been compelled by poverty and other factors to allow academic education, hitherto considered out of bounds, especially for women. Focus groups with 32 Haredi women enrolled in the social work program at the Haredi College in Jerusalem reveal the obstacles the women encountered both from conservative forces in the community and from within themselves and the means that they used to cope with them.
TEACHING NOTE—CASA Volunteerism: Preparing MSW Students for Public Child Welfare Practice
Jill Berrick and Wendy Durst
In an effort to reform public child welfare systems across the nation, Title IV-E child welfare training programs were established over two decades ago (Grossman, 2000). Participating students typically engage in a customized educational experience as part of their MSW program that prepares them to work in the field of child welfare upon graduation. This paper describes an initiative taking place in one MSW program where students are encouraged to serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), paired with an individual child or youth in foster care. The purpose is to offer students a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of children in care. Information relating to program design and student perspectives on the experience are presented.
FIELD NOTE—Developing Suicide Risk Assessment Training for Hospital Social Workers: An Academic-Community Partnership
Abigail Ross, Elizabeth Wharff, and Susan Lambert
Social work training in suicide assessment has been shown to be inadequate (Feldman & Freedenthal, 2006). Academic-community partnerships provide students with the opportunity to apply theories from the classroom in practice settings. This paper describes one training hospital's academic partnership to address this need. Social work administrators implemented a two-session suicide assessment training program. Participants were surveyed to assess levels of competency/perceived competency and quality and utility of the training at posttest. The mean score on the content exam of the department (n=38) was 88.4%. 100.0% of attendees reported improvements in perceived competence in six of eight skill-based domains. Brief in-service trainings can be instrumental in augmenting hospital social worker competence in suicide risk assessment practice.
RESEARCH NOTE—Testing for Gerontological Competencies: A Pilot Study
Colleen Galambos, Angela Curl, & Karen Woodbury
This article reports on the pilot delivery of an evaluation method to gauge student learning of gerontological competencies. Using a pretest and posttest design, data were collected on 46 students over three classes. Results indicated significant improvement in how students rated or perceived their competencies skill level between pretest and posttest scores (p<.01).