Abstract: Preparing the Future of Social Work. Examining Social Work Curriculum and Social Work Students' Knowledge and Attitudes of ADHD: A Mixed Methods Study (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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610P Preparing the Future of Social Work. Examining Social Work Curriculum and Social Work Students' Knowledge and Attitudes of ADHD: A Mixed Methods Study

Sunday, January 15, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Crystal Garcia, LMSW, Assistant Professor of Practice, Our Lady of the Lake University, Portland, TX
Background: Using a mixed methods design, this study utilized three separate strands of data to understand how social work program curriculum is designed to support students in acquiring the knowledge and skills to work with the ADHD population. To explore the knowledge and attitudes of social work students regarding ADHD, the Knowledge of Attention Deficit Disorders Scale (KADDS) and Community Attitudes Towards Mental Illness Scale (CAMI) were utilized as reliable measures. Qualitative interviews were conducted to understand the perceptions of social work program directors, and content analysis of course syllabi of social work programs were examined to illustrate how social work programs infuse mental health and ADHD-specific content into the curriculum.

Methods: Primary data were collected utilizing a combination of convenience and purposive sampling to obtain a sample of undergraduate and graduate social work students (N=70). Purposive sampling methods for the qualitative interviews and content analysis were also utilized to obtain a sample of social work program directors (N=7) and course syllabi from 10 social work programs (N=157), including 101 (64%) from seven undergraduate programs and 56 (36%) from three graduate programs social work programs in a southern state.

The mean age of student participants was 34, 33% were undergraduate students, 43.5% graduate students, and 23% doctoral students. Of this sample, 28% held an undergraduate degree in a field other than social work. Mean scores for knowledge of ADHD among students revealed a general understanding of ADHD in terms of characteristics, symptoms, and treatment, and participants demonstrated positive attitudes (less stigmatizing beliefs) towards individuals with ADHD.

Results: Several themes emerged from the qualitative interviews that were synonymous with the integrating features of the Signature Pedagogy Framework including thinking and performing like a social worker, development of the professional self, and signature characteristics of teaching and learning. Through the merging of the three strands of data, this study provided a multidimensional view of how program design influences explicit curriculum and the direct impact on the mental health literacy of social work students.

Implications: Findings suggest that although many social work programs emphasize the importance of preparing generalist social work practitioners, CSWE requirements continue to influence explicit curriculum which can limit the mobility of programs. As the demand for social workers within the mental health workforce continues to increase, social work programs must consider the trajectory of the profession and consider alternative methods of infusing content that will enhance the mental health literacy of social work students.