• 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