Retention of Research Knowledge: A Preliminary Comparison of Advanced Standing and Traditional MSW Students
An often studied topic, particularly in the 1990s, comparisons between traditional and advanced standing students have produced mixed results (Carrillo & Thyer, 1994; Knight, 1993; Jani et al., 2009). Notably absent from the literature is an examination of the differences and similarities between traditional and advanced standing students regarding their acquisition and retention of research knowledge. This study is a preliminary investigation, making use of data collected during the initial development and evaluation of the Research Knowledge Assessment tool (RKA) (Abell, Secret, Perkins, & Keast, 2012). Specifically, data collected as part of the RKA’s development was analyzed with an eye toward the differences and similarities in research knowledge and acquisition among advanced standing and traditional MSW students. This poster reviews the development of the initial RKA, presents the findings of this preliminary analysis, highlighting any substantial differences in knowledge retention between the two student groups, and discusses the implications of the findings to inform curriculum development for all students.
The RKA instrument contains four vignettes that describe research-related issues or problems associated with practice settings. Twenty-four multiple choice questions ask about aspects of the research process; including use of existing literature, sampling, measurement, and data collection methods. Correct responses were summed to yield a total score of 24. This study utilizes data from two data collection points – the first at the beginning of the concentration year research course (in which both advanced standing and traditional students are enrolled) and again at the end of the concentration year. The sample consists of 118 students (22 advanced standing and 96 traditional).
Initial paired t-tests were conducted for both advanced standing and traditional students to assess for a difference in scores from time one to time two. The advanced standing (t(21)=1.17, p=.255) and the traditional (t(95)=.66, p=.511) students showed no significant differences in scores. Mean scores for both groups decreased from time one to time two with advanced standing going from M=15.09 to 14.41 and traditional students going from M=14.27 to 14.07. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to look at differences between the groups of students at the two different measurement times. No significant difference between the scores of advanced standing students and traditional students was found F (1,116)=1.646, p=.202. Furthermore, no significant difference between the interaction of time and student type was found F (1,116)=.498, p=.482. It is worth noting that overall, both groups had relatively low scores when compared to the total score of 24 indicating that retention of research knowledge needs to be considered further.
Conclusions and Implications:
Results of this study suggest that retention of research knowledge is similar and low for both advanced standing and traditional students. The data indicate that research retention may decrease with time and uncovering ways to help students retain information is warranted. Exploring research knowledge acquisition and retention of MSW students, regardless student type, is important for educators to consider as well as revisiting curriculum planning for research methods courses, including what constitutes research competency by CSWE standards.