Forthcoming Issue

Fall 2017, Volume 53, No. 4

 

Bridging Class and Field: Field Instructors’ and Liaisons’ Reactions to Information About Students’ Baseline Performance Derived From Simulated Interviews           
Marion Bogo
 
To strengthen students’ preparation for engaging in field learning, an innovation was implemented to teach and assess foundation year students’ performance prior to entering field education. An Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) informed the final evaluation of students’ performance in two companion courses on practice theory and skills. The evaluation was used by field instructors and students to develop the field learning plan. This paper reports on a qualitative study that examined field instructors’ and faculty field liaisons’ experiences and reactions to using this new approach and its impact in shaping students’ field learning goals. Implications for supporting adoption of innovations that strengthen the link between classroom and field teaching are offered, including new institutional policies that resulted from ongoing evaluation.
 
 
 
Beyond Words: Comics in the Social Work Classroom
Bree Akesson
 
Equipping future social workers to interrogate social justice, human rights and cultural issues requires a revision of social work education. Culturally relevant teaching is increasingly important in today’s globalized world. In this article, we explore the role of comics as a form of social work pedagogy to tackle complex social issues. The article argues that comics offer specific benefits to educators seeking to develop critical thinking and self-reflexivity in their students. We present findings from focus group discussions with social work students to examine the relevance of comics in social work education. Ultimately, use of comics as a teaching tool contributes to effective preparation of future social workers through the mutual transformation it engenders in students and educators.
 
 
 
Empathy in Social Work
Karl Eriksson
 
A dominant conceptualization of empathy in both social work practice and education, provided by Karen Gerdes and Elizabeth Segal, relies heavily on the so-called simulation theory, a theory adopted directly from the cognitive neurosciences. The aim was to critically challenge such a view by reporting on some recent empirical findings from the field, in which professional social workers were interviewed about their experience of empathy in working with forced migrants. The findings support a phenomenological critical account of simulation theory and provide evidence that empathy is constituted as direct social perception of the other’s experience. Conclusions were drawn that simulation theory is insufficient in providing an exhaustive approach for the professional use of empathy in social work practice and education.
 

 
High-Impact Practices in Social Work Education: A Short-Term Study Abroad Service Learning Trip to Guatemala
Christopher Cotten
 
Among the myriad challenges for 21st century universities is preparing students to be legitimate contenders in a progressively demanding and globalized employment market. Savvy education consumers – both undergraduate and graduate – who aspire to succeed in obtaining post-graduation employment in an economic climate that is highly competitive are using the academy as an arena to build a portfolio – figuratively or literally – of skill-building experiences that accrete value beyond the classroom. For their part, employers are seeking value-added graduates who can perform in this brave new world. This article begins with a description of High-Impact Educational practices (HIPs) as elucidated by Kuh (2008) and describes an initiative at one university to integrate HIPS into the curriculum. The article finishes with a case study of one particular high-impact social work class, a short-term study abroad/service-learning course in Guatemala, and presents both quantitative and qualitative data.
 
 
 
Mentoring in a Distributed Learning Social Work Program
Donna Jensen
 
Students in alternative education programs often experience differential access to faculty, advisors, university support systems, and the supportive culture established by being on campus. This study is a descriptive-exploratory program evaluation of the distributed learning social work mentoring program at California State University, Chico. The researcher examined the utilization of mentoring and how it differed between first-generation and non-first-generation students, between rural and urban-dwelling students, by the age of students, graduate and undergraduate students, and the student’s geographical proximity to the main CSU, Chico campus. All demographic groups of students utilized mentoring for Emotional Support, Self-Care, Help in Managing School, Family, and Work and Time Management. Study limitations and recommendations for future research are included.
 
 
 
Prevalence and Predictors of Social Work Student Food Insecurity
Rhen Miles
 
Food security is an essential component of material wellness and social justice. This study draws on a 2013 survey of 496 students within a school of social work in a Pacific Northwestern U.S. public university to (a) provide the first estimate of the prevalence of food insecurity among social work students and (b) investigate coping strategies used and resources accessed by students. It was determined that 43% of students had experienced food insecurity in the preceding year. In addition, students in the BSW program, students of color, females, and first-generation college students were more likely to be food-insecure. Based on these findings, the article describes strategies for addressing the material and self-care needs of social work students and practitioners.
 
 
 
The Blame Index: Exploring the Change in Social Work Students’ Perceptions of Poverty
Elena Delavega
 
This study reports the development of a new Blame Index to determine attributions of the causes of poverty along a single structural-to-individual dimension. A multi-site pre/post-group design tested the degree of change in social work students’ (N = 177) perception of poverty as a result of taking a single BSW social policy course or an MSW foundation social policy course. Student respondents reported a significant shift toward structural and away from individual attribution of the causes of poverty, more support for government anti-poverty benefit programs, increased awareness of the inadequacy of existing government anti-poverty programs, and increased awareness of the difficulty in accessing government antipoverty benefits. Linear regression explained 17% of the change in the Blame Index with only race/ethnicity and the change in adequacy of benefits as significant predictors.
 
 
 
Relationships Among Diverse Students in a Cohort-Based MSW Program: A Social Network Analysis
Rebecca Mauldin
 
Peer relationships are an integral part of social work education that may reduce stress and increase cultural competency. This study examined three types of social ties (academic, friendship, and professional) among first-semester students in a cohort-based MSW program. Data were collected three times during the semester and analyzed using social network analysis. By semester’s end, students had an average of 10.2 ties (significantly more than the mid-semester mean of 8.6 ties/student), almost exclusively within their own cohort. Participants (N=144) had a greater percentage of ties with people of a different racial/ethnic group at end-of-semester compared to mid-semester, although relationships remained more likely to exist between students of the same race/ethnicity, especially for friendships. Implications for MSW education are discussed.
 
 
 
Spirituality, Religion, Social Justice Orientation, and the Career Aspirations of Young Adults
David Chenot
 
A previous study by the authors found that spirituality and religion predict the development of social justice orientation (SJO) among young adults over time (Authors). The current study explores the manner in which the effects of spirituality and religion on social justice orientation vary depending on the career aspirations of young adults. The longitudinal data (two waves) used for this study was gathered from 14,527 students at 136 universities in the USA. Results of structural equation modeling analyses based on a cross-lagged panel modeling approach revealed that spirituality significantly predicted projected SJO behaviors among those who aspire to join the helping professions and the SJO attitudes of those who sought to join other professions. The implications of the findings for social work and social work education are discussed.
 
 
 
“No One Talked About It”: Social Work Field Placements and Sexual Harassment
Leila Wood
 
Increasing student safety is an important part of Title IX compliance for colleges and universities. Sexual harassment is an all-too-common experience for college students though little is known about incidences in social work field placements. The extent of training and preparation received by students from social work program and field instructors is also unknown. This study explores the extent of training and knowledge about sexual harassment in social work field placements from sample of 535 BSW and MSW students. Only 51% of social work students received training about sexual harassment, with 21% receiving training from their school’s field office. Participants who had received training felt more prepared to address safety concerns in field. Implications for social work education are discussed.
 
 
 
Clicking Toward Better Grades: The Use of Student Response Systems in Social Work Education
Laura Voith
 
Universities are increasingly shifting their pedagogical focus from traditional lectures to active learning by integrating academic technology such as “clickers” (i.e., student response systems) into the classroom. However, few studies have examined the effect of clickers on learning outcomes such as test grades, and even fewer studies have evaluated this technology in social work education. This study examined the effect of clickers on learning outcomes in an undergraduate social work course. Findings indicated that frequency of clicker use significantly contributed to increased test scores after controlling for important covariates, suggesting that clickers may be an effective tool in actively engaging social work students and promoting student learning. Guidelines for instructors considering integrating technology into future social work courses are discussed.
 
 
 
Development, Implementation, and Evaluation of a Comprehensive Course on Suicide in a Master’s of Social Work Program
Joanna Almeida
 
Most master of social work (MSW) programs provide minimal education or training on suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention despite that the majority of social workers encounter suicidal clients during their professional careers. This study describes the development, implementation, and evaluation of a course on suicide in an MSW program. Changes in student suicide-related knowledge, confidence, and preparedness were evaluated using a pre/post design. We found statistically significant increases in knowledge (t [df = 21] = 4.79; p < .001), confidence (t [df = 17] = 8.55; p < .001), and preparedness (t [df = 20] = 7.28; p < .001) from pretest to posttest. Knowledge, confidence, and preparedness were significantly positively correlated, indicating that confidence and preparedness did not increase without a corresponding increase in knowledge. Given the prevalence of suicide and the frequency with which social workers serve populations affected by suicide, it is critical that MSW programs provide effective training on understanding suicide.
 
 
 
Teaching Notes —Asserting Social Work’s Role in Developing an Interprofessional Education Project
Rie Kobayashi
 
Interprofessional (IP) collaboration is an essential component of today’s health care system. First developed as a physician-social work partnership at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1905 (Dzielewski, 1998), social work has been part of IP teams for over a century in various health care settings. Yet, social work’s involvement in the contemporary development of IP education curriculum with other health care disciplines has been limited. This article describes how one School of Social Work at a regional university became part of a longitudinal IP education project with a large research university, creating an IP opportunity for Master’s in Social Work (MSW) students. It also discusses the process taken for social work inclusion in the IP project and an experiential elective course designed.
 
 
 
Teaching Note—Meeting the Demand for Behavioral Health Clinicians: Innovative Training Through the GLOBE Project
McClain Sampson
 
The national move toward integrated mental health and substance abuse service delivery significantly impacts social work education and necessitates changes in how we train students. To address this need, the Global Leaders of Behavioral Health Education (GLOBE) training project was developed. GLOBE is a student training and stipend program that prepares students for clinical behavioral health practice in integrated care. This teaching note describes GLOBE, reports challenges encountered in its implementation, and provides strategies for overcoming them. The challenges include placing students in grant-compliant field placements, engaging other healthcare professionals in the educational efforts, and implementing curriculum changes. Suggestions for social work programs interested in integrated care training are given.
 
 

Teaching Note—Tweeting Macro Practice: Social Media in the Social Work Classroom
Samantha Teixeira
 

Despite its ubiquity, social work educators are just beginning to harness social media in teaching. In this teaching note, we discuss our use of Twitter in a bachelor’s-level macro Human Behavior in the Social Environment course. We present results from a survey of 45 students designed to assess their perceptions of Twitter use in the classroom and in particular, as a macro social work learning tool. Students appreciated using social media in the course and reported that Twitter was a valuable professional social work tool. We explore how social work educators can provide an innovative classroom experience that incorporates ethical and professional use of social media and demonstrate how we used Twitter to apply macro practice competencies.
 
 
 
Teaching Note—Creating an Integrative Research Learning Environment for BSW and MSW Students
Megumi Inoue
 
Research courses are often the least popular among BSW and MSW students because the connection between social work practice and research is not always evident. This teaching note introduces the structure of the Social Work integrative Research Lab (SWiRL), which was implemented in a social work program without a doctoral program at a large public university. SWiRL offers students opportunities to engage meaningfully in a variety of social work research projects using a framework of nested mentoring. Students gain hands-on research experience while they develop confidence, leadership, and mentoring skills within this structure. The authors discuss recommendations for other social work programs that do not have doctoral education or an established research environment.
 
 
 
Teaching Notes —Fostering Political Awareness in Students Through the Use of Genograms
Jennifer Crowell
 
Despite the celebrated history of social workers engaging in the political realm for the purposes of fostering social change, students sometimes seem ambivalent regarding the essential nature of their political engagement while also doubting their ability to make a difference through these efforts. How can social work educators combat feelings of disinterest or inadequacy as it relates to policy practice? This manuscript describes the use of an experiential activity that called third year BSW students in a social policy course to create a genogram detailing the political and civic engagement of their family of origin. This was assigned with the aim of providing students an opportunity to better understand potential assets and barriers to their engaging in the political sphere.
 
 
 
Field Notes —From MSW to J-O-B: Using Field Seminar to Prepare Students for Employment
Stacy Deck
 
Social work field education is expected to help students transition from the classroom to the practice setting. Yet, few social work programs adequately provide career development support to increase students’ employability. This Field Note presents practical, relevant and immediate strategies for implementing the MSW to J-O-B curriculum innovation in the field practicum seminar. The purpose is to help students clarify professional goals and successfully obtain employment or career advancement opportunities following graduation.