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Forthcoming Issue

Winter 2019, Volume 55, Issue 1

 

Invited Article—Predatory Doctoral Programs: Warnings for Social Workers
Bruce Thyer

Many masters-level social workers make the decision for earn a doctoral degree in social work or a related field. There exist a large number of so-called predatory doctoral programs, which lack rigor or much academic substance and are ultimately of little value in advancing one’s career. This paper describes the characteristics of legitimate social work doctoral programs, and outlines some of the warning signs associated with predatory doctoral programs. It is hoped that MSWs seeking the doctorate will avoid pursuing less than reputable doctoral degrees and opt to earn the doctorate from a reputable institution. Our Code of Ethics states that social workers should not claim credentials or qualifications to which they are not entitled and acquiring and using a bogus doctoral degree would violate this standard.
 


Towards a Framework for Service User Involvement Approaches in Social Work Education: Empowerment and Educational Perspectives
Marion Laging & Heidenreich, Thomas

One of the topics that has recently gained widespread attention in social work education (SWE) is service user involvement (SUI), a term denoting the call to include users of social work services in teaching social work students. Despite the widespread use of the term SUI, this label includes a wide variety of approaches with different aims and scope. A conceptual framework that distinguishes empowerment from educational perspectives in current SUI approaches is proposed and a number of elements that should be discussed within each of these perspectives are introduced: theoretical background, role and tasks of the institution, areas of implementation and role of service users, and effects of SUI and their assessment. Implications for further SUI projects and research approaches are discussed.
 


Curriculum Mapping in Social Work Curriculum With 2015 EPAS
Monit Cheung & Shu Zhou

In a curriculum mapping project, the mapping process of a MSW program is documented and linked with the CSWE’s 2015 EPAS competencies. It starts with the background of creating a mapping process for sequencing and integrating a series of assessment tasks with mapping exercises. An example focusing on this program’s clinical specialization is shared. From the main tasks in a five-stage process, curriculum mapping is defined as a step-by-step process of visualizing and evaluating teaching contents for curriculum studies, from generalist to specialization. This process explains how to map and improve social work curricula with component analyses and provides suggestions for planning future mapping visualization exercises prior to reaffirmation studies.
 


A Stakeholder Analysis of Admission in a Baccalaureate Social Work Program
Lisa Street, Cynthia MacGregor, & Jeffrey Cornelius-White

Social work programs shape the profession through their admission practices. The researcher completed a stakeholder analysis of a baccalaureate social work program to seek stakeholder perspectives on admission practices by conducting interviews and focus groups with 53 participants representing seven stakeholder groups. Results suggest that external stakeholders such as field instructors, social service employers, and adjunct faculty members are not widely represented in the BSW admission process. Four categories of stakeholder expectations for social work admission were found: gatekeeping for professional suitability, a process of self-reflection for students, an indicator of educational quality for the social work program, and progression of students’ professional socialization as a social worker. Findings provide insights to inform faculty as they oversee social work admission.


Training the Future Workforce: Social Workers in Integrated Health Care Settings
Mary Held, Denise Black, Kate Chaffin, Kim Mallory, Allison Milam, & Sherry Cummings

Integrated health care is a predominant approach to treating interrelated physical and behavioral health disorders. Social workers serve vital roles on integrated health care teams, but often lack sufficient training for this work prior to joining the team. In order to explore the social work skills and competencies required for this work, semi-structured, qualitative individual interviews were conducted with 10 social workers employed on integrated health care teams. Key themes emerged around existing social work strengths, further training that is needed for this work, and fundamental skills for effective team-based collaboration. Implications for social work education are presented.
 
 
Using Experiential Learning to Help Students Understand the Impact of Food Insecurity
Jennifer Kenney & Sarah Young

Experiential learning theory suggests that students increase their understanding when given the opportunity to experience a particular situation in addition to learning about it intellectually. This theory was used to construct an assignment to assist social work master’s students in better understanding food insecurity and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Through coding previously collected reactions to the assignment, the researchers discovered multiple reoccurring themes: increased understanding of the SNAP policy, feelings about the policy, realizations regarding individual privilege, client stigma, the social experience of eating, and empathy for those who experience food insecurity. Through this exercise, students both increased their knowledge of the policy and gained a better understanding of how food insecurity personally affects individuals and families.
 


Use of Experiential Learning, Reflective Writing, and Metacognition to Develop Cultural Humility among Undergraduate Students
Ninive Sanchez, Alexander Norka, Megan Corbin, & Clark Peters

This study discusses the use of experiential learning, reflective writing, and metacognition to develop cultural humility among undergraduate students enrolled in a social and economic justice course. Students participated in an activity that challenged them to learn about people who may have different social identities and experiences than their own such as attending a service for a religion different from their own. Then, students wrote a reflective essay in which they used the margin of the paper as a safe space to write anything that came to mind during the writing process. A content analysis of students’ comments suggests that students used the space to examine their emotions, seek understanding of self and others, and recognize their privilege.
 


Heteronormativity Prevails: A Study of Sexuality in Norwegian Social Work Bachelor Programs
Merethe Giertsen

This article reviews how sexuality is addressed in the curricula of Norwegian social work bachelor programs. A keyword search revealed that sexuality was addressed in only 0.08% of curriculum materials in the 2013–2014 academic year (90 pages). Among the six articles identified that addressed sexuality, five problematized heteronormative assumptions, whereas one focused solely on problematic aspects of being gay and lesbian. The finding that heteronormativity was addressed in less than 0.08% of course content indicates that heteronormativity prevails. This study concludes that heteronormative discourses dominate the curricula of Norwegian social work bachelor programs. Suggestions for reorienting course content to address sexuality as a hierarchical construction producing otherness are presented.
 

Self-Care Practice in Social Work Education: A Systematic Review of Interventions             
Austin Griffiths, David Royse, April Murphy, & Saundra Starks

Social work is a demanding profession as practitioners routinely face difficult situations that affect their well-being. The National Association of Social Workers strongly supports selfcare practice as an approved mechanism to offset these challenges, yet practitioners report not learning techniques necessary to perform self-care. In this study, a systematic review compliant with PRISMA standards was conducted to identify evidence-based interventions used to improve student self-care practice in social work education. In the four studies meeting inclusion criteria, mindfulness practice was the only empirically evaluated self-care strategy reported—and with mixed results. Mindfulness activities enable social workers to sustain their well-being and is critical to modeling and providing effective service delivery to clients. Areas for further research are indicated.
 

Curriculum Implications for Collaborative Practice from Veteran Health Care Sector Social Workers Serving OIF/OEF Veterans
Michael Clarkson-Hendrix & John Carroll-Barbuto

This study examined Veteran health care social workers’ perceptions of collaboration and practice with Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom Veterans with the purpose of developing curriculum implications for social work education. Using a mixed methods design, including surveys (n = 21) and interviews (n = 13), associations between serving this Veteran cohort and the occurrence of collaboration were assessed. Surveys revealed that reflection on collaborative processes increased when serving this cohort. Interviews identified frequent high acuity in behavioral health conditions and emotionally overwhelmed Veterans as contributors to this finding. Curriculum recommendations include infusing content on interprofessional collaboration in practice courses; improved instruction on intervening with colleagues to promote effective client processes and outcomes; and education on developing positive interprofessional climates.
 


Learning through Teaching: Social Work PhD Students as Educators and Learners of Research      
Jack Lu, Karen D'Angelo, & Jennifer Willett

Doctorate of philosophy (PhD) social work programs train students to become effective researchers. Less recognized are potential opportunities for PhD students to develop their role as educators along with the benefits of honing doctoral students’ knowledge of research through their role as educators. This study explored these opportunities for social work PhD students who taught an introductory research methods course to master’s of social work (MSW) students. Findings suggest that potential strong, mutual benefits for both PhD student-instructors and their MSW students exist, and institutional supports improved PhD student-instructors’ confidence as both educators and researchers. Finally, integration of Kolb’s experiential learning theory and Feynman’s mental model of learning into doctoral social work curriculum may enhance the development of future scholars.
 

Social Work Student Self-care and Academic Stress          
Marissa O'Neill, Marissa, Greta Slater, Greta, & Deric Batt

The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between self-care and academic stress in the hopes that training social work students to practice self-care will start them on the right path to academic success and career longevity. The study surveyed 90 BASW and MSW students using the Academic Stress Scale. Students who practiced daily self-care had lower academic stress. In addition, with each year of progression through the program students experienced minimally less academic stress. The type of self-care practiced was not a factor. Social Work programs can be encouraged to teach self-care. Self-care theory and domains are also reviewed. More studies are needed to examine other factors that might reduce academic stress.
 


The Implicit Curriculum: Student Engagement and the Role of Social Media
Cory Morton, Melissa Wells, & Trish Cox

This paper presents results from an exploratory study conducted as a component of an assessment of the Implicit Curriculum in one masters-level Social Work program. Web-based surveys were used to collect data from 80 graduate social work students in online and face-to-face programs. Findings indicate students who perceived social media as more useful reported higher levels of engagement and participation in program governance. The implications for social work education deal with the ability to competently use social media as a tool to increase student engagement. Students will only be exposed to elements of the implicit curriculum if they are active participants in their academic environments.
 


Historical Knowledge of Oppression and Racial Attitudes of Social Work Students
Ashley Davis
Racism has a long history in the United States. For generations, people of color have been systematically oppressed, while white people have benefitted from unearned privilege. Despite major advances in civil rights, the ongoing presence and legacy of racism and white privilege result in pervasive inequities. Social work education prepares graduates to advocate for racial justice. The present study describes the historical knowledge of oppression that students (N=305) possess at the beginning of their MSW education, and examines the relationship between this knowledge and the endorsement of a colorblind ideology. Students with more historical knowledge reported fewer colorblind beliefs; millennial generation students reported fewer colorblind beliefs than older students. Implications are discussed for race-conscious and competency-based social work education.
 
               

Comparison of an Online and Traditional MSW Program: A Five-Year Study
Sherry Cummings, Kate Chaffin, & Allison Milam

The purpose of the current study was to compare five years of educational outcome data for online and face-to-face MSW students (n=883) who graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Social Work. Students’ knowledge (Comprehensive Exam scores, GPAs), skills (Field Evaluation scores) and perception of their graduate social work program were examined. Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed significantly higher knowledge scores for face-to-face, and significantly greater skills ratings for online, students. Online students possessed significantly more positive perceptions of faculty and their own preparedness for professional practice. Effect sizes for all findings were extremely small, however, and suggest that differences found between online and traditional student outcomes have minor practical relevance related to student achievement. Educational and research implications are discussed.
 


Teaching Note—Closing the Health Gap and Social Work Education: A Grand Challenge
Catherine Roberson

The American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare have defined 12 challenges for the social work profession, one of which is Close the Health Gap, addressing health inequities in the United States. The Close the Health Gap challenge is appropriate for the profession from a historical perspective, a theoretical perspective, an ethical perspective, and a professional perspective. Therefore, it is incumbent upon social work educators to incorporate the Grand Challenge into the classroom. This article presents a suggested assignment that can be utilized to incorporate such content into already existing classes, mapping them to social work competencies.
 


Teaching Note—Implementation of Online Client Simulation to Train and Assess Screening and Brief Intervention Skills
Jennifer Putney, Adele Levine, Cali-Ryan Collin, Kimberly O'Brien, Shannon Mountain-Ray, & Tamara Cadet

Given the workforce shortage of adequately trained behavioral health professionals, schools of social work are ideally positioned to teach empirically supported treatments for preventing and reducing substance use, specifically screening and brief interventions. Traditionally, opportunities to practice screening and brief intervention skills occur in classes and field placements; however, these opportunities are limited by class time, placement setting, and multiple demands placed on field instructors. Online client simulation holds potential to address these imitations as an asynchronous training and assessment tool. This article details the integration of online, interactive client simulation technology within advanced level Master of Social Work curricula. Drawing on longitudinal pre- and post-data, we present preliminary analysis of changes in students’ screening and brief intervention skills.
 
 

Teaching Note—Challenges in the Classroom around LGBTQ Topics and Christianity in Social Work
Denise Levy, Adrienne Dessel, Terrence Lewis, David McCarty-Caplan, Jeanna Jacobsen, & Laura Kaplan

This teaching note provides guidance in facilitating the development of culturally sensitive skills for working with LGBTQ populations that take into account power and privilege. Social work faculty and students have an ethical obligation to be both competent and aware of privilege. When working with LGBTQ populations, this means addressing personal and social values and beliefs about gender and sexuality. Faculty may not feel prepared to address the influence of Christianity, the dominant religion in the U.S., on social forces affecting LGBTQ populations and on social workers’ personal religious feelings when working with LGBTQ individuals. This teaching note describes pedagogical techniques and provides guidance about developing faculty and student competence and awareness when working with LGBTQ populations.