Factors which influence social workers' participation in continuing education
Maidenberg, Michelle Penny
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The purpose of this study was to examine factors which influenced the participation of social workers in continuing education. This study followed an explanatory-descriptive research design. Data were gathered by the use of a revised questionnaire originally developed by Keltner (1983) in his study measuring The Perceived Impact of Continuing Education on the Practice of Nurses Working in Acute Care Facilities. This instrument was utilized in its entirety, adding some questions regarding agency support, demographic questions that are applicable to social workers, and replacing the term "nursing" with that of "social work.";The study population was a national sample of randomly selected social workers who are members of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). The sample included BSW/MSW/DSW or Ph.D. level social workers, omitting those social workers who are educators or consultants. The population was stratified into three groups: (1) those social workers who are licensed in a state where there is licensing and mandatory continuing education; (2) those social workers who are licensed in a state where there is licensing and no mandatory continuing education, and (3) those social workers who are certified or registered in a state where there is no mandatory continuing education. A sample size of 700 per group was drawn (taking into consideration those members who would not respond to the questionnaire) based on a calculated sampling error of .05 or 95% confidence level which estimated that a total sample of 384 must be obtained.;Four major research questions were addressed: What is the relationship between social workers' demographics (field of practice, level of education, years in practice, and age) and their level of participation in continuing education? What is the relationship between social workers' perceptions about continuing education and their level of participation in continuing education? What is the relationship between agency support toward continuing education and social workers' level of participation in continuing education? Do social workers' attitudes toward mandatory continuing education relate to their level of participation in continuing education?;In order to test the hypotheses T-tests, One Way ANOVA's, and Pearson Correlations were conducted. The findings revealed that: (a) respondents in the field of mental health were more likely to participate in continuing education if they were required to do so under state licensing law; (b) respondents' years of experience, age, and the perception that continuing education is professionally beneficial did not affect the level at which respondents participated in continuing education; this held true whether or not they were required by law to participate; (c) respondents who perceived continuing education as being helpful to their practice and personally beneficial were more likely to participate in a greater number of hours in continuing education if they were not required by law to do so; (d) agency support affected the level at which respondents participated in continuing education for both those with and without a requirement; and (e) respondents who believed continuing education should be mandated were more likely to participate in continuing education if they were required to do so.;Highlighted in the discussion of the findings are implications for continuing education providers, social welfare agencies, accrediting and licensing bodies, and social work education, as well as considerations for future research.