Learning What Matters: Exploring the Factors Affecting Learning Transfers in Child Welfare Competencies and Career Interest in Child Welfare
Liao, Aries Meng-Wei
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The understanding of the factors impacting MSW students' interests and motivation to learn child welfare competencies, and how they affect learning transfer of the subject is important for the development of a knowledgeable, competent, and committed workforce that serves children and families in the United States. Practitioners need to attain relevant knowledge and skills in order to help vulnerable children and families address the multifaceted familial, personal, and social problems they face. This study can help social work researchers, educators, and administrators develop optimum teaching models and strategies, foster workers' and MSW students' commitment to the field, and identify learning gaps existing between child welfare competencies education and MSW students' learning.;This study explored how personal and organizational factors; such as, motivation, attitudes, and a child welfare curriculum emphasis affected MSW students in learning child welfare competencies through the Child Welfare Competencies Curriculum (CWCC) infusion project. CWCC is a collaborative effort among The New York State Social Work Education Consortium, The New York City Administration of Children's Services, and New York City schools of social work. Using qualitative methods, this study explored students' reactions to one school's project of infusing CWCC into MSW curriculum and its overall impact on students' learning motivation, transfer, and career interest in child welfare. Forty students at Wurzweiler School of Social Work participated in this study, of which most (N=34) had been in the program for at least one year. The study chose the interviewees based on their fields of practice as they relate to child welfare. The data were gathered using qualitative, semi-structured interviews, and were analyzed mainly using qualitative analysis techniques.;The findings strongly suggest that the MSW students participated in the study are receptive to child welfare-related knowledge and believe child welfare competencies are crucial for every social worker. Many students held personal and meaningful feelings and attitudes on the subject of child welfare and were motivated to learn relevant knowledge in order to create positive changes for the clients. Almost all students indicated growth in their skills and practices and in their abilities to conceptualize client problems and form interventions as related to the competencies.;The outcomes of this study have several implications for social work education, administration, and child welfare professionalization. The CWCC infusion in this study showed positive impact on advancing students' practice in working with child welfare issues. The findings may encourage statewide educational and child welfare administrations to consider child welfare competencies infusion for all schools of social work. The findings of this study also indicate that infusing child welfare competencies into general MSW curriculum can be an effective way to enhance child welfare knowledge and skills for both the child welfare workforce and for all social workers.