Social Work explores new assessment methods to enhance undergraduate student learning

Students spend years in the classroom working to fully understand content that can be applied to real world experiences. But how much are they really absorbing during those classes? Are students developing a mastery of the knowledge and skills they need to excel in the workplace? A group of faculty and staff in the Wayne State University School of Social Work have come together to ensure Warrior graduates are prepared to complete this classroom to community transition before walking across the stage at graduation. With funding support from a Wayne State University 2021 Program Assessment Grant, the project team will work to enhance student learning outcomes through improvements to the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) programs’ assessment practices.

Launched in 2018 by the Provost’s Office, the grant program was established to promote best practices in program-level assessment of student learning outcomes. The selected projects stood out for their clear focus on student learning outcomes; improvement to core program assessment practices; broad collaborations within and beyond the programs; and high potential for a significant impact on students, faculty, and staff. The social work project “B.S.W. Capstone Assessment” was one of two projects selected to receive funding for the 2021 cycle.

Part of our job as educators is to continuously seek new and better ways to help our students understand the social work profession and apply those lessons out in the community. We are excited to launch a project that will advance our goal of graduating students who are well prepared to tackle the unique hurdles facing our urban community.  – BSW Program Director and Assistant Professor of Teaching Norma Love-Schropshire

The BSW Capstone Assessment Project Team is comprised of five members, each bringing specialized skills to the table. Led by Social Work BSW Program Director and Assistant Professor of Teaching Norma Love-Schropshire, DSW, the project will include Center for Social Work Research (CSWR) Associate Director and Assessment Coordinator Neva Nahan, CSWR Manager of Research Support Kendra Wells and Social Work Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs Debra Patterson, PhD. Wayne State College of Education Assistant Dean of Accreditation and Assessment Elizabeth Corah-Hopkins, PhD will provide consultation and guidance on the project.

The Wayne State BSW Program is accredited by the Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), which mandates that all BSW programs be designed to build specific competencies in students. The ten competencies weaved throughout our social work curriculum include professional identity, values and ethics, critical thinking, diversity and difference, social and economic justice, research, human behavior and the social environment, social policy, and urban communities. Currently BSW students participate in an integrative seminar and write a capstone paper that integrates classroom learning and field experience to promote student’s understanding of social work knowledge, skills, and values. The competencies are integrated into the capstone paper, which is scored in combination with field instructor ratings to determine student achievement of learning outcomes.

As part of the project, an intensive training plan for faculty will be developed and implemented to improve accuracy and align the benchmark, minor assignments, and rubrics with the BSW curriculum and CSWE competencies. The training will also work to improve the reliability and validity in grading and scoring rubrics among faculty for greater consistency.

Our BSW Program Committee annually reviews assessment data to ensure we are meeting the needs of our students and provide the most inclusive learning experience for them. The generosity of Provost Kornbluh will allow us to take a deeper dive not only into the learning experience of our BSW students, but also assist faculty in gaining a greater understanding and mastery of the assessment process. -  Center for Social Work Research Associate Director and Assessment Coordinator Neva Nahan

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