• Designing and delivering an effective online group social work skills course

      Dillingham, Jara
      Topic/Problem statement: Social work is a profession of interpersonal communication. This aligned well with the traditional face-to-face classroom, however, has presented some challenges when considering meeting student needs through online education. As technology has evolved, there is greater opportunity to utilize technology to improve communication and connection with students, thus opportunity to develop and assess interpersonal skills and skill development. Designing and delivering an effective skills-based course in a fully online format was the goal for this course development. Context: The course referenced in this poster presentation was developed as part of the required course curriculum for undergraduate social work students. The purpose of this course is to train student social workers in group methods that will be utilized in generalist social work practice situations. Through participation in an online course development program, one of the four sections of the course was developed to be delivered in a fully online format using both synchronous and asynchronous components. Grounding: A review of social work literature by Madoc-Jones and Parrott (2005) shows online education is just as effective as traditional face-to-face. However, there are some social work faculty and programs who remain skeptical of the ability to teach and assess students, specifically the skills-based courses, in an online format (Groshong et al., 2013; Moore, 2005). As there has been an increase in commuter students (Complete College America, 2011), programs have been required to be creative and develop online pedagogical strategies to offer quality web-based education (Ouellette & Wilkerson, 2013). Approach: Through working with the instructional designers in the university online course development program, this course was strategically designed utilizing the Quality Matters Rubric standards, which examines clarity, organization, and other components specific to quality course design (QM Rubrics & Standards, n.d.). In addition to looking at course design, through IRB approval, an exploratory study was completed to look at student performance in the course, including overall course grades as well as individual assignments in alignment with course learning objectives. The study also utilized anonymous online student surveys to explore student perception of their performance and factors related to course design and delivery that contributed to or hindered success in the course. Reflection/Discussion/Lessons Learned: Results indicate the goals of designing a quality online course that met students needs and allowed opportunity for students to practice and demonstrate competency in group skills necessary for practice were attained. At the beginning of the course, 81% (n=16) of students enrolled indicated the reason for taking the course was flexibility of not having to commute to campus or it fit best in their schedule. Through QM course certification, the goal of designing a quality course was met, however it did not evaluate the outcomes of student learning. Utilizing an 80% benchmark for determination of student competency, 92% of students met the benchmark with their overall course grade. Of the students (n=8) who completed the post-course survey, 100% indicated they were able to learn effective group skills and felt all course learning objectives were met. As this was an exploratory study, there are areas in which further exploration are necessary, including comparison against the traditional face-to-face sections. References: Complete College America. (2011). Time is the enemy: The surprising truth about why today's college students aren't graduating and what needs to change. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED536827.pdf Groshong, L., McKenna, R., Hest, K., Hadley, S., Freeman, J., Stephenson, D. (2013). Report on online MSW programs. Retrieved from https://www.clinicalsocialworkassociation.org/Resources/Documents/CSWA%20-%20Position%20Paper%20-%20Online%20MSW%20Programs%20-%20September2013.pdf Madoc Jones, I. & Parrott, L. (2005). Virtual Social Work Education Theory and Experience. Social Work Education, 24:7, 755-768. Doi: 10.1080/02615470500238678 Moore, B. (2005). Faculty perceptions of the effectiveness of web-based instruction in social work education: A national study. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 23(1/2), 53-66. Doi: 10.1300/J017v23n010_04 Ouellette, P. M., & Wilkerson, D. (2013). Social work education: Electronic technologies. In T. Mizrahi & L. Davis (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social work (20th ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. QM Rubrics & Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.qualitymatters.org/qa-resources/rubric-standards
    • Developing Course Assignments in an Online Course that Demonstrate Transfer of Knowledge

      Dillingham, Jara
      Online education is a growing field and requires consideration in the development of assignments. Social Work is a competency driven field of study. It requires students to demonstrate not only knowledge, but the ability to apply their knowledge in practice. Interpersonal interaction is fundamental in social work education and is important in skill development of students. This interaction should be structured into course expectations, and course content that engages students (Jones, 2015). Online coursework can potentially create additional obstacles to ensuring students are able to transfer the knowledge to their work with individuals. It is important as an educator to use teaching activities that promote engagement and are interactive, integrated, and reflective (Rowe, Frantz, & Bozalek, 2013). SOCW 400: Understanding Adoption was offered for the first time as an asynchronous online course during a 5 week summer term. The course was developed as a social work elective with the goal of providing students with a beginning understanding of adoption and adoption issues. Two of the learning objectives for the course included, utilizing positive adoption language in conversation as well as utilizing empathy and interpersonal skills to engage an adoptive parent. Integrated in this course was the final assignment that required students to contact an adoptive parent and conduct an interview with this individual. This assignment allowed students to practice interpersonal skills and utilize knowledge gained in the course to engage in conversation in a professional manner. Following the interview, students completed a reflective paper on the interview and the adoptive parent submitted feedback to the instructor on the student. The feedback from the final assignment indicated success in student’s demonstrating professionalism and knowledge of course material. Students stated they were surprised at their level of integration of knowledge and utilization of the material in such a short period of time. Rowe, M., Frantz, J., & Bozalek, V. (2013). Beyond knowledge and skills: The use of a delphi study to develop a technology-mediated teaching strategy. BMC Medical Education, 13, 51. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1472-6920-13-51 Jones, S. H. (2015). Benefits and challenges of online education for clinical social work: Three examples. Clinical Social Work Journal, 43(2), 225-235. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10615-014-0508-z
    • Online synchronous virtual classroom: How to decrease student anxiety and increase engagement

      Dillingham, Jara
      An online synchronous virtual classroom can create anxiety and apprehension in students. Through strategic approaches, students can increase connection and engagement and decrease their anxiety.  SOCW402:  Social Work Practice I and SOCW412: Social Work Practice II are seminar courses senior BSW students take concurrently while completing their required internship. Online synchronous sections of these courses have allowed students the opportunity to complete their internship in geographic areas outside of the surrounding campus communities. It has broadened their internship opportunities, yet created some anxiety in taking an online synchronous seminar course. Research into effective online instruction reveals the importance of having a strong presence of the instructor as well as creating online active learning opportunities that are collaborative in nature. Research also indicates quality online instruction can be just as effective as face to face instruction in the classroom (Dixson, 2010). Through several years of teaching this synchronous format and evaluating student feedback, key areas have emerged that help to decrease anxiety in students and increase connection and student engagement. The first thing is to recognize there are actually more similarities than differences between learning in a traditional classroom and learning in a synchronous online format. Students are required to be on time, limit distractions, come prepared with textbook (and reliable technology), prepared for class discussion/content, and be actively engaged.  These expectations can be accomplished regardless of face-to-face classroom or whether face-to-face through the use of a video-conferencing application. Choosing the correct web based video-conferencing application is important. When students view the application as easy to access and use, the interactions between student and instructor and student to student becomes second nature. Other keys to a successful synchronous online course include:  availability of the instructor, creating a detailed syllabus and a well-designed Blackboard course, providing clear expectations both in writing and verbally at the beginning of the semester and emphasized throughout the course, as well as the thoughtful designing of discussions and activities to encourage group-centered interactions. The outcomes of being diligent in these practices has resulted in students indicating the courses set high standards of practice and required active participation; and students indicating they felt connected to the instructor and fellow students. Students have overwhelming indicated the web based synchronous virtual classroom was a positive experience for them in completing their internship and BSW degree. Dixson, M. D. (2010, June). Creating effective student engagement in online courses: What do students find engaging? Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning,10(2), 1-13. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
    • Student Professionalism in Online Synchronous Courses

      Dillingham, Jara; Powless, Mattew; Rieford, Kathy
      Historically, there have been norms for classroom etiquette that many students in traditional classrooms adopt (Tamban & Lazaro, 2018). Moving from traditional classroom settings to primarily online methods of education has created unforeseen obstacles for both faculty and students. One such obstacle has been a lack of time for faculty to fully develop guidelines that outline professional student behavior for online, synchronous learning. Consequently, students have engaged in some unprofessional behaviors such as inappropriate dress, manners, and conduct. Neuwirth et al. (2020) suggests faculty who train students in proper online etiquette and professionalism within the online classroom are instilling transferable skills to the workplace, as more employers are working remotely. Furthermore, Fenwick (2016) suggests that student involvement in courses be viewed as relational, which has implications for student evaluation. This roundtable dialogue will highlight techniques that establish expectations for learning and professionalism during synchronous online learning sessions. References Fenwick, T. (2016). Social media, professionalism and higher education: A sociomaterial consideration. Studies in Higher Education, 41(4), 664–677. doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2014.942275 Neuwirth, L. S., Jović, S., & Mukherji, B. R. (2020). Reimagining higher education during and post-COVID-19: Challenges and opportunities. Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 147797142094773. doi:10.1177/1477971420947738 Tamban, V. E., & Lazaro, M. P. (2018). Classroom etiquette, social behavior and the academic performance of college of teacher education students at the Laguna State Polytechnic University, Los Baños Campus, A.Y. 2015-2016 [Paper presentation]. 4th International Research Conference on Higher Education: KnE Social Sciences, Indonesia. doi.org/10.18502/kss.v3i6.2446