Annual Assessment Report. Social Work Program. Luther College. Craig Mosher, Ph.D., Program Director. August 2015

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1 Annual Assessment Report Social Work Program Luther College Craig Mosher, Ph.D., Program Director August

2 Annual Assessment Report Social Work Program Introduction This annual report is prepared to assess student outcomes in the social work program at Luther College toward the end of continuously improving the quality of instruction and the level of student performance. The social work program s accreditation was reaffirmed for another full eight-year period by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) in June This decision was taken after an eighteen-month reaffirmation process that included an exhaustive self-study (submitted as the Annual Assessment Report to Luther in August 2013) and a site visit in December This report is based on data from two instruments. They measured student performance during their senior practicum the final semester before graduation. Field instructors (their supervisors), in the agencies where they did their internships, completed one of the instruments and the students themselves completed the second instrument. The instruments measured actual student performance on the ten competencies as operationalized by 41 practice behaviors that are specified by CSWE as constituting the knowledge, values, and skills that social workers need for professional practice. Social Work Program Mission and Goals The Luther College social work program s mission reflects the purposes and values of the social work profession and the program s context within the college and its surrounding community and society. The program s mission and goals have remained relatively stable over the past decade; recent revisions reflect new areas of emphasis within the program and developments in social work education and practice. The social work program fits well at Luther College given the college s history and long-standing mission to serve the community and the common good. The preparation of students for beginning level generalist social work practice is consistent with the college s preparation of other human service professionals, such as teachers, nurses and pastors. Mission of the Luther College Social Work Program The social work program at Luther College is grounded in the history, purposes, and philosophy of the social work profession including the concept of personin-environment. It operates within the context of a small church-affiliated liberal arts college in a vibrant small town in the American upper Midwest. The program aims to assist students in developing ten professional core competencies and the knowledge, values, skills, and professional identity they need to practice as competent professional entry level generalist social workers promoting human and community well-being in a diverse, complex, and 2

3 changing global context; the elimination of poverty; social and economic justice; and quality of life for all. The core values of the social work profession that shape the Luther social work program are: service, social justice, the dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, competence, human rights, and scientific inquiry. Graduates are prepared to be culturally competent life long learners, active citizens, and advocates for social and economic justice who can think critically, use scientific research-based interventions, make sound ethical judgments, respect human diversity, and serve as leaders in strengthening the service delivery system, as they strive to empower people in their environments. The program and its faculty also contribute to knowledge in the field, provide leadership and expertise to strengthen the social service system, and work for the common good in an ever-changing society. Purposes of the Social Work Profession Consistent with the purposes of the social work profession, the mission of the Luther social work program includes commitments to: Promoting human and community well-being and the common good Working within a diverse, complex, and changing global context Working within the person-in-environment context Respecting human diversity in its many forms Utilizing scientific, research-based interventions Promoting social and economic justice, the elimination of poverty, and quality of life for all Values of the profession The social work program is shaped by the core values of the social work profession including: service, social justice, the dignity and worth of the person, the importance of human relationships, integrity, competence, human rights, and scientific inquiry. The program curriculum is based on these values, expecting that students will learn to practice with respect for all people and work for social and economic justice as professional social workers. 3

4 Program context Luther College was founded in 1861 to educate pastors for Norwegian immigrant congregations. A strong commitment to the liberal arts has endured and remains the foundation for an expanding range of pre-professional and professional programs. Social work courses were first offered in the early 1970 s, and the social work program was first accredited by CSWE in The addition of social work as a major was a logical extension of the long-standing commitment of the college to serve the common good. The college s emphasis on connecting freedom with responsibility, faith with learning and life s work with service directly influence, and are shaped by, the social work program at the college. Throughout its history Luther College has provided a liberal arts curriculum that gives students a solid grounding in the humanities, social sciences, and physical sciences so that they will have the broad liberal education necessary to successful careers and effective citizenship. In particular, students learn about the economic, social, political, technological, cultural, and environmental contexts in which we all live. In Healing the Heart of Democracy, Parker Palmer summarizes well the importance of the liberal arts context for the Luther social work program, Knowledge of this sort is liberating not only because it steeps us in the wisdom of the past; it also accustoms us to ambiguity and paradox, preparing us to find our way into an unpredictable future. A liberal education helps us embrace diverse ideas without becoming paralyzed in thought or action (Palmer 2011, p. 84). The following elements from the Luther College Mission and Goals provide a supportive context for the social work program mission and goals: The commitment to serve the common good and connecting life s work with service Luther s academic structure of. knowledge, abilities, and values, mirrors social work s focus on knowledge, values, and skills. Diversity and ethics show up repeatedly in the Luther statements Life long learning is referred to as continuing growth throughout their lives Critical thinking is referenced several times as acquire, evaluate, and apply knowledge; analyze sources critically; and ability to reason Scientific research is referred to with the words, investigate a problem, analyze information, and communicate results A focus on issues related to justice, peace, and the environment The program is firmly rooted in the liberal arts, which is evidenced by reference to the following items as found in the college catalog: Goals for Student Learning, Requirements for the Degree, and Summary of All-College Requirements. 4

5 Social Work Requirements: To qualify for the Bachelor of Arts degree, social work students must complete 128 semester hours of credit with a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 (C) or higher. The 128 hours must include the following: One January Term First Year Seminar: The social work program has offered two first year seminars (Growing Old in America and Crisis Intervention: Interpersonal Violence) which are open to all first year students at Luther College. A second January term course that includes one of the following experiences: study away, directed readings, student-initiated project. Social Work majors complete Social Work 102: Field Experience, which meets this requirement. At least 20 course equivalents (80 credits) outside the student's major discipline. 64 credit hours completed in residence. The college is located in Decorah, a town of 8,000 in northeast Iowa. Luther is a small, private, liberal arts college, offering only the bachelors degree, which draws students from all states and 50 countries. The majority of Luther students come from four states: Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Most students come from urban or small city environments like Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Rochester, La Crosse, Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, and Rockford. Therefore, the social work program prepares students for truly generalist practice settings and does not, in spite of its location, emphasize rural social work. College enrollment is steady at around 2500 with the largest majors being music, biology, and psychology. The social work program averages about graduates a year. Goals Of The Social Work Program Goal 1: Prepare students for competent and effective entry-level generalist professional social work practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities through mastery of the knowledge, values, and skills that inform the ten core competencies (EPAS 2008). Competencies: 1 10 Goal 2: Prepare students to think critically, using the values, codes of ethics, and research base of the profession. Competencies: 2, 3, 6 Goal 3: Prepare students to use prevention and intervention methods to work effectively in changing contexts with diverse populations, drawing on people s strengths and resilience. Competencies: 4, 5, 7, 8, 9 5

6 Table 1 EPAS Competencies and Social Work Program Goals Competency E.P E.P E.P E.P E.P E.P E.P E.P E.P E.P Goal 1 X X X X X X X X X X Goal 2 X X X Goal 3 X X X X X The first broad primary goal of the Luther social work program, as stated above, is to prepare graduates for generalist practice with the full range of populations by helping them learn the knowledge, values, and skills that inform the ten core competencies (CSWE EPAS 2008). Graduates who have mastered all ten competencies will be prepared for generalist practice. Table 1 shows that Goal 1 involves all ten competencies. Goal two focuses on the development of a solid grounding in the skills of critical thinking based on social work ethical principles and scientifically-based research knowledge so graduates can empower people and work for social and economic justice from a sound base of ethical principles and scientifically validated interventions. The third goal is to prepare students to intervene directly and seek to prevent social problems within their particular contexts in order to enhance human rights and social and economic justice. This work involves understanding of the systemic nature of social problems, how policy affects people s lives, the resources to be found in peoples strengths and resilience and the strength that diversity brings to communities and societies. The program goals implement the general statements of the program mission and the mission is firmly grounded in the context of the college mission and goals, which support working for the common good and a life of service; a structure of knowledge, values, and service; life-long learning; ethics and critical thinking, scientific research based actions; and a commitment to justice and peace. Current assessment efforts are focused on these goals, which have not changed since last year. In fact, these goals have remained relatively stable over recent years except for occasional updating of language. 6

7 Assessment of Social Work Program Outcomes The Luther College social work program Assessment Plan, to evaluate the attainment of ten student competencies (in column one), is outlined in Table 2 below. The plan specifies two measures for each of the forty-one practice behaviors (listed in column three) that operationalize the ten competencies, also the procedures for analyzing the data, and the benchmarks for determining attainment of competency for each of the ten competencies, as outlined in the CSWE EPAS 2008). The plan also notes the items that measure each practice behavior, which are the same for the two instruments used to measure the practice behaviors. Table 2 Luther College Social Work Program Assessment Plan 2008 EPAS Competencies Competency Benchmark Practice Behavior (PB) Measures Analysis Procedures EP Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly Mean of 4.00 out of 5 For each PB an average score of measures is computed. The mean of the PB means for each competency is the competency mean, which is used to address the benchmark. These benchmarks are the same for all competencies. 1. Advocate for client access to the services of social work. 2. Practice personal reflection and self-correction to assure continual professional development. 3. Attend to professional roles and boundaries. 4. Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication Item 1.1 Item 1.2 Item 1.3 Items & 2. Aggregate mean % of students at or above benchmark mean competency score (4.00). Procedures the same for all PBs EP2.1.2 Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional 5. Engage in career-long learning. 6. Use supervision and consultation. 7. Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice. 8. Make ethical decisions by applying standards of NASW Code of Ethics and, as applicable, IFSW/IASSW Ethics 7 Item 1.7 Item 1.8 Item 2.4 Items

8 practice P2.1.3 Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments EP2.1.4 Engage diversity and difference in practice INCLUDES: Age, class, color, culture, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, political ideology, race, religion, spirituality and the full spectrum of beliefs, sex, sexual orientation EP Advance human rights and social and economic justice EP2.1.6 Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research Principles. 9. Tolerate ambiguity in resolving ethical conflicts. 10. Apply strategies of ethical reasoning to arrive at principled decisions. 11. Distinguish, appraise, and integrate multiple sources of knowledge, including researchbased knowledge, and practice wisdom. 12. Analyze models of assessment, prevention, intervention, and evaluation. 13. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues. 14. Recognize the extent to which a culture s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power. 15. Gain sufficient selfawareness to eliminate the influence of personal biases and values in working with diverse groups. 16. Recognize and communicate their understanding of the importance of difference in shaping life experiences. 17. View themselves as learners and engage those with whom they work as informants. 18. Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination. 19. Advocate for human rights and social and economic justice. 20. Engage in practices that advance social and economic justice. 21. Use practice experiences to inform scientific inquiry. 22. Use research evidence to inform practice. Item 2.5 Item 2.6 Item 3.1 Item 3.2 Items Items Item 4.4 Item 4.5 Item 4.6 Items Item 5.3 Item 5.4 Item 6.1 Items

9 EP2.1.7 Apply knowledge of human behavior and the social environment 23. Utilize conceptual frameworks to guide the process of assessment, intervention, and evaluation. 24. Critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment. Items Item 7.4 EP2.1.8 Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic wellbeing and to deliver effective social work services EP2.1.9 Respond to contexts that shape practice EP Engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities 25. Analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being. 26. Collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action. 27. Continuously discover, appraise, and attend to changing locales, populations, scientific and technological developments, and emerging societal trends to provide relevant services. 28. Provide leadership in Items Items Item 9.1 promoting sustainable changes in service delivery and practice Item 9.2 to improve the quality of social services. 29. Substantively and affectively prepare for action with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. 30. Use empathy and other interpersonal skills. 31. Develop a mutually agreedon focus of work and desired outcomes. 32. Collect, organize and interpret client data. Item 10.1 Item 10.2 Item 10.3 Item

10 33. Assess client strengths and limitations. 34. Develop mutually agreedon intervention goals and objectives. 35. Select appropriate intervention strategies. 36. Initiate actions to achieve organizational goals. 37. Implement prevention interventions that enhance client capacities. 38. Help clients resolve problems. 39. Negotiate, mediate, and advocate for clients. 40. Facilitate transitions and endings. 41. Critically analyze, monitor, and evaluate interventions. Item 10.5 Item 10.6 Item 10.7 Item 10.8 Item 10.9 Item Items Items Item Description of Instruments Two instruments were used to measure the attainment of the competencies, referred to as and. (Copies of both are in the Appendix, pp. 35 and 43.) This is the same instrument used the last two years). Both were adapted from the Sample Field Instrument developed by Helen Petracchi and Charles Zastrow*. Their instrument provides 68 items including at least one item, sometimes several items, to measure each of the 41 practice behaviors in EPAS The 41 practice behaviors operationalize the 10 basic competencies that all social work students must master. It was developed for field instructors to rate the performance of practicum students on the practice behaviors. The items are arranged in categories that match the ten EPAS competencies so analysis is straightforward. It uses a five point Likert scale from 5: The intern has excelled in this area to 1: The intern has not met expectations in this area Minor editorial changes were made to create the instrument that was used by Luther College field instructors to rate students performance. In cases where there are multiple items that measure a particular practice behavior it was easy to average the scores on those items to attain a measure of that practice behavior. This is a relatively strong measure because the field instructors are * Petracchi, H.E. & Zastrow, C. (2010). Suggestions for Utilizing 2008 EPAS in CSWE Accredited Social Work Baccalaureate and Masters Curriculum: Reflections from the Field. Part One The Explicit Curriculum. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, Vol. 30 (2). 10

11 relatively objective, knowledgeable, and skillful observers who have at least 400 hours to observe the students behavior during their senior field placement throughout the spring semester. For the instrument (see Appendix, p. 43) the instructions and response categories were modified so students could use it but the items were the same. The five response categories on this instrument ranged from 5) The student has attained competence in this practice behavior to 1) The student has made almost no progress toward attaining competence in this practice behavior. Graduating practicum students were asked to use the instrument to rate their progress on each practice behavior, taking into account their overall experience in the social work program over the three years most of them were in the program. This measure is not as strong as the field instructor one because it is based on the students self-reports but students also know their performance very well and were evaluating their entire three years of experience in the program; not just one semester as the field instructors were doing. Both instruments have substantial face validity since the items correspond directly with the EPAS 2008 statements of the practice behaviors. Psychometric measures of validity and reliability are not available. The number of students (N) is relatively low because we are a small program, which decreases both validity and reliability. Both measures were weighted the same. Measurement Procedures Field instructors completed the instrument during the last week of students practicum placements in early May This was the senior class cohort of 21 students who graduated in social work from Luther in May One other student walked at the 2015 commencement but will not finish until December so is not included here. So the N for this analysis of the field instructor ratings is 21. At the same time fifteen of the 21 students completed the instrument, rating their own assessment of the level of competence they had achieved in each particular practice behavior over the course of their Luther studies in social work. So the field instructor data covers just the spring semester of 2015 field practicum period while the student data covers all of their three or four years studying social work at Luther. The raw data from these two instruments is in the Appendix, Table 5 (p. 23) and Table 6 (p. 28). The two instruments are administered in the same way annually in the spring at the end of each cohort s practicum placement, just before graduation. Hard copies were used; not electronic copies. The cohort is the group of seniors graduating in any given year. The data were analyzed as described below. Benchmark The benchmark was set at an aggregate mean (average of both measures) of 4.00 on the five point scale. Measurement Procedures Implicit Curriculum In CSWE parlance, the implicit curriculum includes elements other than specific courses such as teaching quality, facilities, advising, admissions, program 11

12 policies, student participation, grading, and diversity. The implicit curriculum was not assessed this year. On-going Data Collection As described above, two instruments were used to gather data from field instructors and students in May 2015, at the end of the students senior practicum, just before graduation. (Copies are in the Appendix, pp. 35 and 43.) This datagathering procedure is repeated with the graduating class of social work students each year. Mechanism to Review Findings and Make Changes The social work program faculty uses its regular program faculty meetings and some special meetings to develop the assessment plan, discuss and analyze the data, problem-solve the problematic findings and make changes to improve students experience and performance on each practice behavior and competency. Since there are only three full-time faculty in the program, all are involved in all of these discussions. Some changes can be made by the program faculty themselves, others require going through college procedures to establish or modify a course, for example. Some changes may require discussions with the Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work Department; the Dean; President; and Board of Regents. Many changes are discussed with students and Advisory Board members as well as other constituencies as described below. This process is on going. On an as-needed basis, the social work faculty reviews information at its regular meetings from a variety of sources: assessment data; course evaluations; feedback from meetings and conversations with students, field instructors, agency workers, and others; correspondence with alumni; and Social Work Advisory Board meetings. In some cases this on-going review affirms the way things are being done, in other cases changes are made in an on-going process to continually improve the quality of the program. Specific changes based on this assessment are discussed following the findings below. At a minimum, these reviews are discussed at each Advisory Board meeting (usually one per semester) and at meetings with the Social Work (student) Association to gather input and report on decisions. 12

13 Data Presentation and Analysis The basic data presentation and analysis can be found in three spread sheets, s-data (Table 5), -Data (Table 6), and Summary Assessment Data (Table 7) all three are in the Appendix, pp. 23, 28, 32, respectively. The first two spreadsheets (s-data and P&Z Student-Data) contain the raw data and calculate the competency and practice behavior means from the two instruments field instructors and students. The third spreadsheet (Summary Assessment Data) takes the data from these two spreadsheets and averages the competency and practice behavior means from the two instruments into a single aggregate mean for each competency. The data from the last two columns of the Summary Assessment Data spreadsheet, Table 7, are summarized in Table 3, Findings for Assessment of Social Work Competencies, immediately below. Table 3 includes data for the last four academic years ( , , , and ). These spreadsheets and Table 3, below, also include the percent of students whose mean scores were at or above the benchmark of 4.00 (on the five point scale). Details of the data analysis follow Table 3. 13

14 Table 3 Findings for Assessment of Social Work Competencies Competencies and Practice Behaviors Comb Comb Comb Comb FI & % stdt FI & % FI & % FI & % Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk 4/5 > Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk Means Means Means Means C1 Professional PB PB PB PB PB PB C1 Mean Students > Bchmk C2 Ethical PB PB PB PB C2 Mean Students > Bchmk C3 Critical thinking PB PB PB C3 Mean Students > Bchmk C4 Diversity PB PB PB PB C4 Mean Students > Bchmk

15 Competencies and Practice Behaviors Comb Comb Comb Comb % FI & % FI & stdt FI & % % FI & Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk 4/5 > Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk Means Means Means Means C5 Rights/Justice PB PB PB C5 Mean Students > Bchmk C6 Research PB PB C6 Mean Students > Bchmk C7 Human Behavior PB PB C7 Mean Students > Bchmk C8 Policy PB PB C8 Mean Students > Bchmk C9 Contexts- Practice PB PB C9 Mean Students > Bchmk

16 Competencies and Practice Behaviors Comb Comb Comb Comb % FI & % FI & stdt FI & % % FI & Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk 4/5 > Bmk Bmk 4/5 >Bmk Means Means Means Means C10 Practice PB PB PB PB PB PB PB PB PB PB PB PB PB C10 Mean Students > Bchmk Mean-10 Comp Above Benchmark Below Benchmark Bold Data Analysis (Continued) The data were analyzed as follows. 1. For both of the instruments: when there were multiple items for one practice behavior (PB) they were averaged to get a score for each PB. When there was just one item for a particular PB, that score was used, as can be seen in the s-data spreadsheet, Table 5, in the Appendix, p The scores on the PBs that operationalized a particular competency were averaged to get a competency mean for each individual participant, as shown on the same P&Z Field Instructors-Data spreadsheet. Table 2 details which PBs operationalize each competency on p The competency means of each student for a particular competency were then averaged across the row to get a competency mean for the whole cohort on that particular 16

17 competency, on that instrument as shown in the next to the last column ( Field mean ) on the s-data spreadsheet, Table 5, p These competency means, from the two instruments (Field Instructor and Student) were then averaged for each competency, to get an aggregate mean of both instruments for the cohort on each particular competency as shown in the next to the last column ( P&Z Combined FI & Avg. Mean ) on the Summary Assessment Data spreadsheet, Table 7 in the Appendix, p Then, to get the percentage of students at benchmark, the number of students who scored at or above the 4.00 benchmark for each particular competency mean was counted as shown in the final column of the s-data spreadsheet, Table 5, p The percentage of students at benchmark for each competency on each of the two instruments was averaged to get an average percent of students at benchmark on the combined instruments as shown in the Summary Assessment Data spreadsheet, Table 7, p The N = 21 for the Field Instructors instrument and the N = 15 for the Student instrument. Findings Table 3, shown above, presents the summary findings from the data analysis of the two instruments: s and s averaged together (for ) as well as the data for the last three years. As noted earlier, aggregate means were calculated for each competency by averaging the competency means from the two instruments for each competency. This aggregate mean is the measure used to address the benchmark (4.00) for all of the competencies. Statistical analysis of the significance of the findings was beyond the scope of this report so it is not known which, if any, of the findings are statistically significant. So, while comments are made in the following discussion about even small differences among the means, some of those small differences are, obviously, not meaningful. It is likely that differences in the means of less than 0.10 on the five-point scale are probably not very significant. So 0.10 will be considered the estimated margin of error. The aggregate competency mean of the two instruments together (for ) was above the 4.0 benchmark for all but one of the ten competencies. The aggregate mean was below benchmark only for competency C9, Contexts of Practice. In the three previous years there were three or four competencies below benchmark each year so this years scores indicate improvement. As was true in the previous years, the means varied from year to year. Many of the differences are small (within the estimated margin of error of 0.10) and probably not meaningful. The strongest competencies all four years (within the 0.10 estimated margin of error) are C1 Professional, C2 Ethical, C3 Critical Thinking, C4 Diversity, C5 Rights/Justice, C7 Human Behavior, and C10 Practice. While C6 Research and C8 Policy and often, C9 Contexts of Practice have consistently been the lowest of the ten competency means. Each competency will be discussed in turn using this year s data, followed by some comparisons. Field Instructors rated students lower than the students rated themselves on three competencies (C1 Professional, C2 Ethical, and C10 Practice) and they rated students higher than the students rated themselves on two competencies (C8 Policy and C9 Contexts of Practice). On five competencies (C3 Critical Thinking, C4 Diversity, C5 Rights, C6 Research, and C7 Research) 17

18 the competency means from the two instruments were within the 0.10 margin of error reflecting substantial agreement between the Field Instructors and Students ratings. Findings Data refer to Table 3 above C1 Professional The aggregate mean for the acting professionally competency, C1, was well above the 4.00 benchmark at 4.46 and each of the six practice behaviors that contribute to this competency were at or above the benchmark ( ). Students rated themselves higher on this measure than field instructors did by % of students were above the benchmark. This competency mean was considerably higher this year than all previous years. This competency was second highest this year as in the past three years. C2 Ethical The aggregate mean for C2, using ethics to guide practice, was 4.32 well above the benchmark. All four practice behaviors operationalizing this competency were well above benchmark. Students rated themselves higher than field instructors did on all four measures (PBs). 64% of students were above the benchmark on this competency. The aggregate mean on this competency was considerably above the past three years. C3 Critical Thinking The C3 critical thinking competency had an aggregate mean of 4.13 above the benchmark. Again, students rated themselves a little higher than field instructors did on all three of the practice behaviors for this competency. The student s (4.18) and the field instructor s (4.09) aggregate means were fairly close just within the margin of error. The percent of students above benchmark on this competency was 60%. This competency s aggregate mean was higher than the last three years, which ranged C4 Diversity The aggregate mean of 4.50 on Competency 4, Diversity, was the highest of all the competencies this year as it has been for all four years and indicates this is a significant strength of the students in the Luther social work program. 76% of students were above benchmark on Competency 4, Diversity marking the fourth year that Diversity has been the highest competency on the measure of percent of students above benchmark. The aggregate mean for C4 was a little above the previous years, which ranged C5 Rights and Justice The fifth competency, regarding civil rights and social and economic justice, had an aggregate mean above the benchmark (4.08). Students rated themselves slightly lower than field instructors did. 60% of students were above benchmark on this competency, Rights and Justice about the same as last year but lower than the two earlier years. The aggregate means for C5 only varied by 0.07 over the four years ( ) probably not a significant difference. C6 Research The aggregate mean for Competency 6, Research, was above the benchmark at 4.05 for the first time in the four years. Students rated themselves a little higher than field instructors did at 4.09 and 4.01, respectively. On research, 60% of students were above benchmark. The aggregate competency mean was higher than the previous year s range of showing some welcome improvement. C7 Human Behavior The human behavior competency, C7, had an aggregate mean of 4.33 well above benchmark. Student and Field Instructor means were close (0.05 apart) within the margin of error with students slightly higher. 67% of students were above benchmark on C7, Human Behavior, similar to previous years. The 4.33 human behavior aggregate mean was very close to the previous year s means, which ranged C8 Policy Competency 8, Policy, had a competency mean of 4.04, which was above the benchmark for the first time. This year s aggregate C8 mean was higher than the last three year s 18

19 range, Field Instructors rated students considerably higher than the students rated themselves (4.15 and 3.93, respectively). 51% of students were above the benchmark for this competency. Like research, this shows considerable and welcome improvement over previous years. C9 Contexts that Shape Practice The aggregate mean for Competency 9, Contexts that Shape Practice, was the only one below benchmark at 3.91 although that score is just within the margin of error. Field Instructors ratings were lower than students (3.88 and 4.11 respectively). The percent of students above benchmark on Competency 9 was 52%, slightly above last year and lower than the two earlier years. This aggregate mean is similar to previous years except for one year that was considerably higher (previous range: ). This C9 competency has been eliminated in the new 2015 revision of the CSWE EPAS standards that has just come out. Many schools reported difficulty understanding and measuring it. C10 Practice (engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation) Competency 10, covering a wide range of social work practice knowledge and skills, was well above benchmark with an aggregate mean of The student s average competency mean was higher than the field instructor s. The practice behavior in this competency with the highest rating (by both field instructors and students) was PB 30, use of empathy and interpersonal skills, (aggregate mean=4.66), just as it was the previous years. PB 30 was also the highest rated of all the practice behaviors. 64% of students were above benchmark on the practice competency, C10, which was similar to previous years. This year s 4.34 C10 aggregate mean was above the last three year s range of The overall aggregate mean of all ten competency means was well above benchmark (4.22) and considerably higher than the previous three year s range of This is a measure of student achievement of the CSWE EPAS social work competencies for the social work program as a whole. Discussion of Findings The data from the field instructors ratings of senior students practicum performance and the students ratings of their overall social work studies on the ten CSWE competencies and 41 practice behaviors show that social work students in this year s graduating class are demonstrating the basic competencies they need to perform professional social work at the highest level in the past four years. This year only one competency, C9 Contexts of Practice was below benchmark at 3.91, which was within the margin of error. See below for further discussion of this competency. In June of 2013 a similar data analysis from the school year led CSWE to renew the social work program s accreditation for the full eight years with no requests for additional reporting or changes in our self-study. This decision was the culmination of an eighteen-month process including our submittal of the self-study in August of 2012 and the site visit in December This reaccreditation process was focused on student outcomes as articulated by the ten competencies and 41 practice behaviors and as measured by the two instruments described above. Each year we report this data to CSWE and post it on our social work program website for the public to see. Three years ago ( ) three competency means were below our 4.00 benchmark: C6 Research, C8 Policy, and C9 Contexts of Practice. Two years ago ( ) we were below benchmark on three competencies: C6 Research, C8 Policy, & C3 Critical Thinking. Last year ( ) we were below benchmark on five competencies: C6 research and C8 Policy again, but 19

20 also: C7 Human Behavior, C9 Contexts of Practice (again) and C10 Practice. C3 Critical Thinking was back above benchmark last year. The only ones consistently below benchmark all three of the past years were C6 Research and C8 Policy but they were above benchmark this year. See further discussion of research and policy below. The only competency below benchmark this year was C9 Contexts of Practice (at 3.91), which has been below benchmark three out of the four years. This is not of great concern because, as mentioned earlier, the difficulties many programs reported in understanding and measuring this benchmark have led to its elimination in the new 2015 EPAS standards, which have just come out. This difficulty in understanding and measuring this competency may be part of the reason for the low ratings. Tests of statistical significance are beyond the scope of this report. The main focus of discussion in this report each year is the competency means that are below benchmark more than the assumed margin of error of 0.10, on the 5-point scale. This year C9 Contexts of Practice was the only competency below benchmark. Because of the change in the EPAS standards noted above and the fact it was only 0.09 below (less than the margin of error) it is not of great concern. It is interesting that the average competency mean for all ten competencies is somewhat higher this year than it has been for the past three years. We would like to believe that this reflects the program s efforts to improve teaching, particularly in the areas that were low during previous years. With this limited amount of data and the small Ns some years, other reasons that might explain this are not immediately obvious. See Table 4. The two years with the largest number of students (2012 and 2015) had the highest average competency scores but not by much in The year with the highest average competency mean (2015) also had the highest average social work GPA which might have affected the competency means since students who get higher grades might also get higher ratings from field instructors and themselves. Then the year (2013) with the lowest average social work GPA also had a medium range average competency mean but these differences aren t very big so it s hard to attach too much importance to them. Table N of SW graduates Avg. Competency Mean Avg. SW GPA Avg. Overall Luther GPA While research and policy are just above benchmark this year (a welcome result after they were below benchmark the previous three years) they are still the lowest two competency means except for C9, contexts of Practice, discussed above. So we continue to face the challenge of historically low student interest and motivation for these two subjects. This tends to be true at many other schools judging by CSWE data, conversations with colleagues at conferences, and articles in the literature. Luther evaluations of teaching have shown this pattern for some years as well. The social work program faculty reviewed these results in August 2015 and decided to continue our special efforts to find examples, case studies, research studies, and policy issues that will be of interest to our students such as racism, police violence, and gun control in the wake of the recent horrific shootings in Charleston, Ferguson, Cleveland, Baltimore, and elsewhere. There also seems 20

21 to be interest among students in gay marriage, climate change, and the death penalty related to recent events in the news. Efforts will continue to assist students in choosing topics for their research and policy papers that are of special interest to them personally in hopes of strengthening their interest in these two subjects. Also, faculty will continue working in Policy (SW 304), Research (SW 305), Field Instruction (SW 402) and Professional Seminar (SW 403) to get students more motivated to study and use policy and research through enhanced training of field instructors and through planning practicum learning contracts that include more research and policy activities in the practicum (SW402) and in seminar (SW403) discussions. Part of the difficulty with low student interest in research and policy is that social work practitioners in general, including field instructors, also have less interest in research and policy issues making it more difficult for students to get much experience, even enthusiasm, for these areas. Faculty continue to encourage field agencies toward more involvement with research and policy work. Agencies can benefit from gathering program evaluation data on their own work and lobbying to change social policies that affect their clients. The more we can interest agency field instructors in policy and research, the more practicum students will be able to do these activities. After some discussion the social work faculty concluded that the higher competency mean scores are welcome evidence that the program is working for these students. We look forward to additional data in future years to see if there are real long term trends. Two years ago we decided to watch the C3 Critical Thinking competency score since it had fallen below benchmark at Last year it was back up above benchmark at 4.03 and this year it is considerably higher than last year at 4.13, which suggests students are meeting our criteria in this area. The faculty decided that we needed to get several years of data for all of the competencies before we can expect to see significant patterns in the data that could guide us in making additional changes in the program. We will, of course, continue the special efforts we ve been making this past year to increase student interest in research and policy, help them choose topics for their research and policy papers and senior projects that they are passionate about, and, as noted, work with field instructors to strengthen their interest and activities in areas of research and policy. Conclusion The data in this report indicate that the Luther College social work program is succeeding at graduating students who have the needed knowledge, values, and skills in the ten basic competencies as operationalized by the 41 practice behaviors specified by the Council on Social Work Education. The Social Work Program s accreditation reaffirmation decision by CSWE two years ago confirmed this result and, combined with the new data from this year, allows us to have growing confidence that social work graduates are well prepared for professional social work practice. The data indicate many areas of ongoing strength in the program. The program faculty are continuing to work to improve student performance in the areas of research and policy, that are the lowest rated competencies, although they are still above benchmark. We are also continuing to gather data so that we can determine if there are any patterns in the student outcome data over several years. 21

22 Appendix Table of Contents Page Table 5 Raw Data P & Z Field Instructor s Data...23 Table 6 Raw Data P & Z Student s Self Assessment Data Table 7 Summary Data Field Instructors and Students Combined.. 32 P&Z Field Instructor Instrument.35 P&Z Student Instrument 43 22

23 Instrument Field Instructors Benchmark 80% C1 Professional PZ Field Field 4.00/ 5 Mean Item Bmk= # 4.0 PB PB PB PB PB PB C1 Mean # Students > Bchmk C2 Ethical PB7 * * 2.4 is out of order PB PB PB C2 Mean # Students > Bchmk

24 C3 Critical thinking PB PB PB C3 Mean # Students > Bchmk C4 Diversity PB PB PB PB C4 Mean # Students > Bchmk

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