Method: Survey data were collected from three recent cohorts of MSW advanced year students (N = 170) at a large southern university in the United States. Students completed the GSWCS II at the beginning of their MSW program. Majority of the sample self-identified as female, Caucasian, a 2-year program enrollee; the average age was approximately 27 years. Data were prepared and cleaned using Version 23 of the Statistical Pack for the Social Sciences. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were then employed using structural equation modeling techniques in Mplus Version 8. All EFA and CFA procedures for ordinal data utilized the weighted least squares means and variance adjusted estimator to extract factors (Bowen & Guo, 2012). During EFA procedures, eigenvalues over 1.0 provided preliminary evidence of the number of latent factors. Cutoffs and localized areas of strain identified in EFA informed CFA modeling. CFA re-examined relationships among observed items and latent factors and correlations among factors. In all model testing, an acceptable fit of a model was defined by the following: root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) ≤ .05; comparative fit index (CFI) ≥ .95; Tucker-Lewis Index (TLI) ≥ .95 (see Bowen & Guo, 2012). Correlations among factors were considered significant at p < .05.
Results: Preliminary results of EFA showed adequate fit for a five-factor model (χ2 = 1445.24; RMSEA = .05; CFI = .98; TLI = .97). Several local areas of strain were identified and adjusted for prior to CFA procedures. Preliminary findings of CFA indicated adequate model fit for the five-factor model (χ2 = 1729.30; RMSEA = .05; CFI = .97; TLI = .97). All five factors were significantly (p < .05) and positively correlated with one another.
Conclusion/Implications: Results of psychometric testing indicate initial support for a five factor GSWCS II Scale designed to assess social work competencies in gero-specific contexts. The use of this measure can provide social work educators and the field at-large with valid and reliable information about students’ skills and competencies related to working with the growing older adult population. Additional implications for practice, policy, and future research will be discussed.