Shifting to remote instruction. Perspectives of US graduate social work students during Covid-19 times
1Department of Social Work - Springfield college; 2Department of Social Work- Springfield college; 3Department of Social Work -Springfield college; 4Yale School of Medicine
The restrictive measures imposed at the outset of COVID-19 severely impacted all aspects of peoples’ lives. As students were unexpectedly required to transition to remote learning, this disruption in the educational experience has been keenly felt. This paper reports on a study exploring the perspectives of graduate social work students in the USA (N=78) when switched to remote education during 2020 spring semester due to Covid-19. Students responded to ten open-ended questions that, among others, inquired about the experience of remote education, the perceived level of preparedness of instructors, the impact of social isolation on their studies, and the struggles and coping strategies they utilized. Finally, students were asked to report on pedagogical interventions they experienced as helpful.
Inductive thematic analysis was utilized. The following preliminary themes emerged: students appreciated the convenience of online education and safety; however, they found it hard to complete assignments and remain motivated, and teleconference fatigue and faculty competency with online teaching affected how they experienced their courses. When asked about areas with which they struggled as they shifted to online, overwhelmingly they reported difficulties with concentration and task completion. Isolation also had an impact on students’ productivity as they did not have the energy or concentration to focus on their studies. As well, many students reported feeling anxious, agitated, and worried about their future. When asked about what they found helpful, students’ reported they appreciated faculty who facilitated wellness check-ins, who maintained face-to-face class structure, and who were flexible and clear with deadlines and expectations. They recommended weekly or biweekly assignments instead of longer papers, the use of online platform/software, and fewer hours on teleconference. Finally, students reported that they very much appreciated faculty’s efforts to adjust considering the circumstances. Implications for future social work education will be discussed.
Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on educational experiences: Perspectives of undergraduate social work students.
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
The novel coronavirus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is an infectious disease caused by a coronavirus that was unknown until its outbreak in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 (World Health Organization, WHO, 2020). On January 30, 2020, the WHO labeled the disease as an outbreak of grave international public health concern (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2020). Less than two months following the WHO’s labeling of COVID-19 as an outbreak, the international community, spearheaded by the WHO, declared COVID as a pandemic (Cucinotta & Vanelli, 2020), making the declaration and the gravity of the situation more abrupt and apparent. In social work education, understanding the experiences of students during a typical academic year has always been an important facet in developing and implementing strategies to assure positive student experiences. Disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic during the spring 2020 semester only magnified the imperativeness of knowing and understanding student experiences during the unprecedented spring 2020 semester (the early stages of the pandemic that saw nationwide lockdowns), especially as research on the impact of pandemics or crises on the experiences of social work students is very limited. Forty-two undergraduate social work students at a large public state university in Pennsylvania, United States, participated in this quantitative research study. Participants responded to survey questions pertaining to their educational experiences during the COVID-19-impacted period of the spring 2020 semester in, where face-to-face and/or hybrid teaching formats were replaced by remote instructional modalities. Just under half (47.6%) of the participants found academics as a stressor during the pandemic, with work/life balance (85.7%), academic workload (71.4%), and grades and financial burden (50% each) as the top stressors. Respondents identified friends, family, pets, educators, and faith and spirituality, in that order, as their main support systems during the pandemic. Implications for social work education from these findings are explored in this paper.
Social work professional identity and the implications of Covid-19
The Open University, United Kingdom
When making comparisons transnationally, the meanings and status of social work vary according to factors such as roles, training and status, as well as political, economic and social contexts. This context may now require consideration of responses to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Social work in the United Kingdom (UK) is increasingly focussed on statutory duties such as assessment and protection from abuse. In other countries, social work frequently includes community and development work, therapeutic interventions, social pedagogy and counselling. Thus it might be expected that professional identity carries different meanings according to national variations in role.
This paper reports the methods and published findings of a workshop which used a Rich Picture methodology to explore how a group of social workers from nine different countries conceptualised social work professionalism and professional identity, including the effects of transnational and cultural contexts. The research findings will be contextualised in the light of social workers’ experiences of working in the Covid-19 pandemic. The findings suggest that a collective identity is shared across national boundaries. This shared identity is rooted in a sense of passion and deep commitment. Tensions in identity were also revealed, linked with changing organisational roles and expectations.
Throughout the pandemic, social work practitioners and students have been resourceful in responding to unprecedented situations and adapting their practice to the challenges of an unknown and unfolding crisis. Despite this, there is some indication in the UK that their contribution may be under-valued and not always recognised. Drawing on recently published accounts from social workers, students and social work educators, tentative suggestions will be offered about the implications of Covid-19 for professional identity; and the vital role of social work educators in supporting the development of professional identity.
Resilience in Social Work Students: Effects of a pandemic (in the Social Work curriculum)
1Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal; 2Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal
The current pandemic context poses a serious challenge for us all. If, on one hand, we deal with social, psychological and economic effects that are still (somehow) unknown, grounded in a social experience of confinement and a (almost) non-existent social life, on the other hand, humanity’s adaptation and overcoming needs have been demanded at unprecedented levels. Social Work authors like Kinman & Grant (2011) tell us that there are few studies that address the development of resilience in Social Work students. As a competence promoted on a daily basis by social workers to their service users, there is an urgent need to reflect on how the new generations of Social Work professionals develop themselves and place at service their own strengths, skills and potential (Oliveira, 2016; Saleebey, 2005). Indeed, it is our objective (i) to understand the construction process, the meanings and challenges attributed to the development and consolidation of «resilience» during the course of Social Work training, challenged by an experience of confinement and on-line classes; (ii) analyze the attributions to the training and pre-professional contexts in the construction of the “resilient spirit”; (iv) explore the challenges associated with developing resilience as one of the central skills of the social worker. Methodologically, we are guided by a multi-method approach of inductive logic, operationalizing the data collection process through the application of an online questionnaire survey addressed to undergraduate students in Social Work launched on social networks, and the realization of two focus group with students and professors, whose collected data will be treated and analyzed using the SPSS and MaxQda software. With this communication we intend to contribute to a reflection around the educational strategies to be implemented for the development of a resilient attitude in future Social Work professionals.
Use of a trauma informed approach in social work education: A successful strategy during COVID-19
1University of Houston-Downtown; 2University of Houston-Downtown-Alumna; 3University of Texas-Austin
Our BSW program is in a coastal area prone to tropical storms, hurricanes, and flooding. Thus, we know firsthand that a disaster disrupts life, may threaten or kill groups of people, and frequently results in ongoing hardships. Our experiences with disasters in recent years have led us to continually enhance our preparedness plans. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19), though not a weather event, easily fits the description of a disaster. In response to the “COVID-19 disaster”, our social work program showed innovation by using the Trauma Informed Care (TIC) approach to support students in the midst of the pandemic. After several months of employing the TIC approach with BSW students, we designed a study to examine its effect. Using mixed methods and a convergent parallel design, we evaluated the approach used from March through May of 2020. We surveyed students to learn to what extent they believed the program utilized TIC. We also conducted focus groups to learn how the students benefitted from our use of TIC in the early days of the pandemic. Using a 4-point (range 0-3) trauma-informed principles scale, our program had a high score in three domains: cultural responsiveness and inclusivity (M= 2.9; SD = 0.07); environment of agency and mutual respect (M = 2.83; SD = 0.11); and emphasis on strengths (M = 2.79; SD = 0.05). The qualitative analysis yielded the following themes: 1) The program’s swift and proactive response fostered a sense of safety, 2) The program encouraged students’ empowerment and autonomy, and 3) The program created opportunities for human connection and support. These results demonstrate that the TIC approach helped foster student resilience and academic success. This study revealed that social work educators can utilize TIC as a tool to successfully support and retain students during and after COVID-19. Our presentation will provide a description of the activities and practices our BSW faculty employed during the beginning of the pandemic, describe student responses to the TIC approach, and offer recommendations for other programs interested in implementing trauma informed practices in their social work programs.
The effectiveness of online therapy in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era in Israel
Department of social work, zefat Academic College, Israel
The effectiveness of online therapy in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era in Israel
Objective - This study aims to examine the transition from face-to-face (FtF) to online psychotherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, to assess the effectiveness of online psychotherapy (OT) in the corona era as measured by the success of therapists in implementing the major components of the helping process, and understand what the factors are that can predict this success.
Method – Participants were 192 psychotherapists recruited through a convenience sample, from three different regions in the country. Participants were asked to assess three measures: the effectiveness of online therapy (EOT), therapists preparedness to online therapy (TPOT) and Attitude toward Telemedicine in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (ATiPP) Questionnaire. Associations between EOT, TPOT and ATiPP , demographic and professional variables were analyzed using univariate analyses. A multiple regression analysis was performed to assess the contribution of independent variables to EOT.
Results - Therapists have reported high levels of EOT. TPOT and ATiPP, as well as years of experience in therapy were found to contribute to EOT.
Conclusions – Increasing exposure to online therapy through education as well as investing in the training and preparation of therapists in online therapy may be a pathway to enhance more effective OT, especially, among those who have little experience.