Abstract: Examining Social Work Faculty Practices for Student Success during the COVID19 Pandemic: A Secondary Analysis (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

Examining Social Work Faculty Practices for Student Success during the COVID19 Pandemic: A Secondary Analysis

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Liberty Ballroom N, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
* noted as presenting author
Joy Patton, PhD, Assistant Professor, Our Lady of the Lake University, TX
Background: With the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic came a forced transition to remote delivery platforms. At the intersection of a forced transition to remote learning and the COVID19 pandemic, there remains a critical need in identifying best practices of faculty during times of crises that help support student success. The aim of this study was to (a) better understand social work faculty’s level of engagement with students when transitioning to remote learning due to COVID19 compared to faculty in other disciplines, and (b) learn the effects of transitioning to remote learning on social work student success.

Methods: The current study is a secondary study, utilizing data from an original quantitative, exploratory study conducted in the summer of 2020. The original study included a convenience sample (N = 309) of students (Bachelors, Masters, and PhD) which was drawn from a private university in the central region of the United States, utilizing an online survey. Variables from the original study were selected for use in this secondary study and included demographic, faculty engagement, academic degree plan, and student success variables.

Results: Results of the secondary analysis showed that prior to the remote learning transition, 19.7% (61) of participants indicated they had professors who were not engaged prior to transitioning to remote learning. There was a slight increase, 23% (57), in participants reporting they had professors who were not engaged after transitioning to remote learning. Furthermore, there was a significant difference between participants in social work classes and those in all other disciplines when reporting on professor engagement. Participants who identified as a social work major were more likely to have an engaged professor than participants with majors from other disciplines, X2 (1, N = 309) = 11.548, p = .001. Finally, most (75.6%) participants received the grade they expected by the end of the spring 2020 semester. However, when comparing social work students to students in all other discipline, social work students (88.5%) were more likely to receive the grade they expected than students (72%) in other disciplines, X2 (1, N = 234) = 5.964, p = .01.

Implications: Social work education is unique in its content and approaches to teaching. The very nature of social work education is to train professionals in trauma-informed, strength-based approaches that lend itself to managing crises such as quick transitions to remote learning. This study indicates that faculty from other disciplines within the university may not have been as prepared as social work faculty. The COVID19 pandemic is but one example of the vital importance for preparedness within colleges and universities to not only continue the education of students but to do so in a manner that supports student success. Social workers are in a unique position to provide insight, guidance and training for universities, faculty, and staff on best practices for ensuring success for all students.