Abstract: The Transition to Remote Learning in Schools of Social Work in Israel; A Comparison between Students and Instructors (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

101P The Transition to Remote Learning in Schools of Social Work in Israel; A Comparison between Students and Instructors

Thursday, January 13, 2022
Marquis BR Salon 6, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Liat Shklarski, PhD, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Ramapo College, New Jersey, NY
Yael Latzer, PhD, Professor, Haifa University Israel, New York, NY
Yaara Paz, BSW, MSW student, Lead researcher, Haifa University, New York, NY
Evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on higher education, specifically on social work education, is gradually emerging. While the empirical literature points to the effectiveness of delivering course content virtually as a method of teaching social work, research on the effects of the abrupt, forced transition from in-person to distance teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic is limited. This quantitative study presents findings from a survey of 144 social work instructors and 150 social work students in Israeli universities about their experiences during the abrupt transition from in-person to distance teaching in the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Data were collected using a cross-sectional survey design. A convenience sample of social work instructors and MSW students was recruited through emails sent to the director of social work programs in Israel (social work instructors N=144, MSW students N=150).

Two separate surveys were conducted that included Likert scale statements, yes/no questions, and open-ended questions. SPSS was used to analyze quantitative data. Reverse coding ensured that all the numerical scoring scales were in the same direction. The data were descriptively analyzed to demonstrate the shape, central tendency, and variability within the dataset. Bivariate Pearson correlations were used to assess the associations among continuous variables. A p-value of less than .05 was considered statistically significant. Independent samples t-tests, one-way ANOVA, and cross tabs were conducted to assess group differences on binary and continuous variables.

Findings show that teaching and learning non-clinical classes remotely (for example research classes) were reported to be as effective as in person. However, clinical classes which required forming of intimacy and interpersonal connections were perceived to be less effective when they were taught remotely. Both students and instructors agreed that the online platform improves work-life balance, saves time and money. An important finding that should receive more attention in future research relates to the adjustment to remote learning of students with learning differences.

As COVID-19 will continue to impact how social work education is delivered, this study presents an opportunity to improve the virtual delivery of educational content to meet the needs of students and instructors who cannot engage in traditional in-person learning. Making further investments in distance social work teaching will improve social work education and prepare students to work in a career that is becoming increasingly reliant on the provision of virtual services.