Congratulations to College of Social Work senior and honors student Jessica Pever who won the 2014 Denman Award! Jessica’s research was selected out of more than 550 undergraduates’ outstanding research showcased at the Denman Undergraduate Research Forum this year. Jessica’s research was titled “Assessing Rigor in Social Work Education from the Perspectives of Students, Faculty, and Lecturers.” Jessica worked with Dr. Denise Bronson (pictured left) on her research project.
Jessica also recently shared her research at two annual college events—the Thesis Showcase and the Honors Dinner which included faculty, staff, students, donors and guests of the college. As an honors student with successful completion of the coursework, Jessica will graduate “With Honors Research Distinction in Social Work.”
For social work students to develop the competencies and skills required for successful social work practice a rigorous curriculum must be available to them. While it is generally accepted that a “rigorous” curriculum leads to better learning outcomes, the actual meaning of rigor and the key components of a rigorous curriculum are not well defined. This study seeks to better understand the concept of rigor as it relates to social work education.
The goals of this study are to analyze the perception of rigor collectively held by students and instructors currently engaged in The Ohio State University undergraduate social work curriculum and to examine the differing perceptions held by these two groups. To evaluate these perceptions, the concept of rigor has been broken down into three primary categories that previous studies indicated as essential components of rigor: course relevance, individual student effort, and course context.
A survey was developed to capture the perceptions held by those active in the program regarding specific items that fall within each of these categories. There were 143 students and 21 instructors who responded to the survey. It is anticipated that the two groups will hold similar perceptions of certain measured components while having differing perceptions of others. The results of this study will provide possible considerations and next steps for the College of Social Work’s undergraduate core curriculum development and help to better define the components of a rigorous curriculum.