METHOD: In a teaching-research integration project, a LCSW instructor collected personal cases written by 550 MSW students from 1999 to 2017. Each student wrote a one-page anonymous case summary, as a homework assignment for in-class practice, describing a major circumstance in their surrounding without personal identifiers. Collected in 18 years, these cases are used in this workshop to demonstrate two approaches to categorize themes of personal challenges and trauma-related problems described by students. First, it starts with a case-writing method to review students' awareness of personal issues that may have affected their life/practice perspective. Then, it uses WordArt to highlight the keywords that capture the themes of personal issues with a series of longitudinal visualization images. It helped students understand the importance of moving out of their discomfort zone, to plan services that could end social injustice, including gender-based, family and community violence that was illustrated in their own situation through writing. This workshop will demonstrate a data reduction method with a visual tool for longitudinal analysis. Participants will utilize a free software to analyze an example of ten student cases to discover the effect of trend analysis that highlights personal issues motivating MSW students to engage in social justice interventions.
RESULTS: Each participant will practice how to analyze thematic trends with ten cases of a selected year with the WordArt method. In groups, they will witness the results from 550 case summaries that generated overall themes and compare with their yearly findings. The top ten themes yearly as compared to the overall data will show similar and different findings organized by the presenters' thematic categorization charts in three domains: who have affected students' wellbeing, what issues bring discomfort, and how these issues can affect emotions. Overall common challenges were relationships inside and outside of the family and emotional reactions to difficulties such as domestic violence; recently, additional concerns were abuse, drug, death, lack of support and other justice issues. These themes, images and charts are interactive methods that help participants discover anonymous concerns from MSW students.
IMPLICATIONS: This teaching-research strategy is to improve students' awareness of intervention issues, increase competency in assessment, and integrate self-exploration in confidence. With the visualization skill, instructors will work with students to analyze social justice issues for research-practice integration and curriculum development. Such integration emphasizes two points: 1) personal influences on practice choices; 2) relationship skill applications without personal biases.