Research That Matters (January 17 - 20, 2008)
Assessing progress towards accreditation related objectives:
Evidence regarding the use of self-efficacy as an outcome
in the MSW curriculum
Background and Purpose:
Monitoring the outcomes of social work education related to the CSWE's accreditation standards continues to be an important issue for the field (Buchan, et al., 2004). The social cognitive theory construct self efficacy (Bandura, 1977; 1982; 1986; 1997) provides a useful conceptualization of social work educational outcomes. Our research team has developed a series of measures of self-efficacy for use in social work educational outcomes assessments related to accreditation. The current study sought to extend this work by creating a measure for a typical MSW course on program evaluation – the Evaluation Self-Efficacy scale (ESE).
Sample: The convenience sample (N=85) of MSW students was taken from multiple sections of a required evaluation course. Students were assessed at the beginning and end of the 14 week semester.
Measures: For psychometric testing Frans' (1993) Social Work Empowerment Scale (SWE) was employed. The ESE was developed following Bandura's guidelines, is written at an eleventh grade reading level (Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 10.6), and takes less than 10 minutes to complete. Given that the ESE items are directly derived from the objectives of the typical evaluation course it can be argued that some evidence of content validity is present. In terms of reliability, the Cronbach's alphas for the ESE were .96 at pretest, .94 at posttest and .94 for the retrospective pretest. Based on our prior research a small positive correlation (r = .15) was predicted between the ESE and the SWE. The observed correlation for this relationship in the current study was r = .18, providing preliminary evidence regarding construct validity.
Procedure: A single group, pretest–posttest-retrospective pretest design was used to detect the presence of response shift bias (RSB).
ESE total scale scores were highly variable (e.g., pretest min-max: 1.8 – 83.6, M = 44.8). Given the non-normal distributions of the three total scale variables, Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used. A Bonferroni adjustment was used to establish an analysis-wise alpha level of .05 for the three contrasts (individual contrast alpha level = .01666; Cliff, 1987). Students in the sample reported statistically significant increases in their self-efficacy regarding evaluation over the course of the semester for both the pretest-posttest (Cohen's U3 = 85.9) and the retrospective pretest-posttest contrasts. While students also reported that they should have been less confident in their abilities at the beginning of the year on the retrospective pretest, the pretest vs. retrospective pretest difference was not statistically significant (no RSB).
Conclusions and Implications:
The preliminary evidence obtained in the current study suggests that the ESE produces data that is reliable and valid. Moreover this is a theoretically derived scale which appears sensitive enough to detect change over the course of a semester in a relatively small sample. Although self-efficacy will always be a single factor in multivariate explanations of subsequent behavior, the ESE may be a useful option for social work educators. :