Session: Implementation Science: School Social Work Research in the School Environment (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

269 Implementation Science: School Social Work Research in the School Environment

Friday, January 22, 2021: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM
Cluster: School Social Work
Judith Rhodes, PhD, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Laura Ainsworth, PhD, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Gwen Murray, PhD, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, Leanna Culpit, PhD, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge and Jahanna Bailey, DSW, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge
Building empirical knowledge for school social work (SSW) programs and related initiatives in schools is foundational for evidence-informed practice. Conducting rigorous research in schools is often impeded by myriad challenges, such as administrative and school staff buy-in, policies, time constraints, and the dynamic nature of the school environment. Moreover, in complex projects, tension can arise between conflicting interests, such as advancing a program for the perceived benefit of the students and adapting research in a fluid environment.

Multiyear projects, external disruptions (e.g., floods, hurricanes, pandemic), changes in school policy or leadership, and other unforeseen occurrences interject additional challenges to completing research plans. Additionally, rigorous research requires substantial financial support and many researchers are increasingly required to leverage outside funding to advance research interests. State and local educational authorities (SEA and LEA) also look to university researchers to partner in their grant funded projects, as more and more funders require partnership with an institution of higher learning. Agendas and roles are often blurred in the name of student assistance, and focus is often lost in the quest to jump on the latest bandwagon of solutions that are not always empirically sound. Often too much time is spent redirecting SEAs and LEAs with not enough time devoted to engaging in or creating new evidence-informed practices.

This roundtable session will begin with an introduction to real world research experiences of a group of multi-disciplinary researchers (i.e., social work, education, political science, sociology, psychology, geography) from a university social science research center. The Center also frequently engages with School of Social Work faculty in complex programs which are often centered on system change. These projects are funded by federal and state grants and contracts with agencies such as the US Department of Education, SAMHSA, US Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Minority Health, US Department of Labor, and National Science Foundation.

Speakers will address the following topics: 1) the tension between scientific inquiry and partnering with school districts and state departments of education for system change, 2) challenges to fidelity implementation, 3) building collaborative (e.g., cross sector partnerships) for research and funding, 4) intervention research, evaluation, and technical assistance, and 5) capacity building in the educational environment.

Our goal for this roundtable is to stimulate discussion about how school social work research can be advanced in the real world educational environment. The presenters bring a wealth of past and current research and evaluation experience, especially in large federally funded projects, to this roundtable. The roundtable will foster discussion about how external projects can be part of researchers’ portfolios as well as the challenges and advantages to working in complex research environments.

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