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Social Work: Assessment in Social Work

SWSS 330 Z1 (CRN: 61542)

3 Credit Hours

About SWSS 330 Z1

An advanced MSW concentration elective that analyzes competing and complementary assessment strategies and their implications in social work in health/mental health and with children and families. Prerequisite: Completion of MSW foundation course work; or Instructor permission.



Dates: June 20 - July 14, 2023; Tues/Wed/Thurs 5pm-8:45pm; MSW Concentration/2nd Yr students ONLY

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Section Description

There will be some updates to this course for Summer 2023, but here is some information taken from the Syllabus from Summer 2022: Course Description Assessment in Social Work (SWSS 330) is a specialized practice course that explores and deconstructs contemporary assessment practices from a postmodern, constructionist, transformative social work orientation. This course will examine the impact of assessment and diagnostic discourses on the lives and relationships of diverse individuals, families, groups, organizations, institutions, and communities. The course will critically consider the ways in which social worker formulations impact clients, clients’ views of themselves, and social work practitioner relationship with clients. The course will also emphasize the ways in which formulations invite and hinder practitioner stance of connection, curiosity, openness and hope from a variety of fundamental social work practice theories. Students will adopt a critical stance toward the history and uses of traditional and contemporary assessment frameworks. The strengths and limitations of each of various approaches and paradigms will be considered, both from the practitioners and clients' perspectives. Integrated into all aspects of this course will be a focus on working with diverse individuals, families and communities and acknowledging the importance of intersectionality and cultural humility connected to social work assessment. Building on student experience and social work practice (course work, work experience, field placement), the class cohort will utilize critical thinking, deep listening, inquiry, and self-awareness to increase knowledge and skill in social work assessment role and identity. REQUIRED COURSE MATERIALS Fadiman, Anne. (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A hmong child, her american doctors, and the collision of two cultures. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All readings and course materials with the exception of the book mentioned above will be posted on BlackBoard at the start of the semester. LEARNING METHODS & RATIONALE The course methods include a combination of learning activities, large group and small group discussions, case examples, case presentations and conceptualizations, written assignments, and required readings. The course will require a sense of collective responsibility for encouraging a climate of openness, safety, inquiry, drawing on and sharing experience both from within and outside the field of social work, critical thinking, self-awareness, and courageous dialogue. LEARNING ASSESSMENT ASSIGNMENTS Class Presence, Participation, and Collaborative Learning (40 points) Book Discussion Group Preparation and Assignment (25 points) Addressing Assessment from a Transformative Social Worker Stance Paper (35 points) Assessments (Graded Work) I. Book Discussion Preparation and Book Discussion Reflection Paper (20 points) Purpose and Brief Description: By the beginning of the course, students will read the "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" by Anne Fadiman. This book will support students to think critically about interdisciplinary approaches to assessment, embrace multiple perspectives existing simultaneously, and provide an in-depth case example of how culture, spirituality, and family beliefs and values impacts assessment. a) Book Discussion Preparation (5 points): After reading the book, each student will post three discussion questions or reflections to the class discussion board to thoughtfully engage class participants in a book group discussion connected to formulation, assumptions, implicit bias, power dynamics between providers and clients, and the importance of self-awareness in helping relationships. Questions/reflections should also be posted to the class discussion board by the due date. b) Book Discussion Reflection Paper (15 points): Each student will complete a brief (no more than 3 pages) paper that captures multiple viewpoints offered during the book group discussion focused on assessment considerations. Paper should include any new or fresh thinking about concepts from the book connected to a constructionist assessment practice. Paper should incorporate some aspect of the following fundamental concepts (discussed in class) of assessment from a constructionist perspective: Formulation or understanding, assumption, implicit bias, power dynamics and self-awareness. (Due Tuesday, June 29th) Evaluation Criteria: (a) Timely completion of both the discussion questions and paper (b) demonstration of understanding of concepts (c) demonstration of critical reflection and connection to constructionist assessment practice (d) active and thoughtful participation in book club discussion. II. Assessment from a Transformative Social Worker Stance Paper (30 points) Purpose and Brief Description: Students will complete a final paper using a case example (an individual, family, group, community, organization, or institution) from prior work or practice experience to explore the multidimensional opportunities to engage in a constructionist assessment process using a transformative social work lens. This assignment is an opportunity to demonstrate reflexivity in understanding one’s own values, culture, awareness, beliefs and experiences contributing to understanding formulation or assessment practice. Students will be asked to think critically about the ways in which assessment practice supports or hinders client intention and priorities. Students are also asked to identify and evaluate the dilemmas that come with working within an organizational world of practice. The final paper should be presented in APA format and must be 5-10 pages in length. Additionally, the paper should incorporate 3-5 readings from the course as academic references. Additional academic resources are also welcomed. Evaluation Criteria: (a) Timely completion (b) Critical thinking and self-awareness skills (c) Use of academic references (d) deep understanding and identification of main objectives of course (e) application of transformative social work and constructionist concepts to explore assessment in social work. References from Course (Summer 2022) Ali, Alisha N., McFarlane, Emily, Hawkins, Robert, & Udo-Inyang, Ini (2012). Social justice revisited: psychological recolonization and the challenge of anti-oppression advocacy. Race, Gender & Class (19) ½, 322-325. American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association. Briggs, H.E. & Corcoron, K. (2001). Shared power in social work: A native american perspective of change. In Briggs & Corcoron (Eds.) Social work practice: Treating common client problems. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Carter, Robert T. (2007). Racism and psychological and emotional injury: Recognizing and assessing race-based traumatic stress. The Counseling Psychologist, 35(1), 13-105. Coates, J., Gray, M. & Hetherington, T. (2006). An ‘ecospiritual’ perspective: Finally, a place for indigenous approaches. British Journal of Social Work, 36(3), 381-399. Corcoran, J. & Walsh, J. (2020). Mental health in social work. Pearson Education. Dean, Ruth G. & Poorvu, Nancy Levitan (2008). Assessment and formulation: A contemporary social work perspective. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 89 (4) 597-604. Dorcas Bowles, Obie Clayton & June Gary Hopps (2017) Spirituality and social work practice at historically Black colleges and universities, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 27:5, 424-437, DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2016.1203384 Goh, Esther C.L. & Baruch, Herzl (2018). Young persons as epistemological agents in social work assessment and intervention. Children and Youth Services Review, 88, 88-95. Graybeal, Clay (2001). Strengths-based social work assessment: Transforming the dominant paradigm. Families in Society, 82(3), 233-242. Hodge, David R. (2001). Spiritual assessment: A review of major qualitative methods and a new framework for assessing spirituality. Social Work, 46(3), 203-214. Iverson, Roberta R, Gergen, Kenneth J. & Fairbanks, Robert P. II (2005). Assessment and social construction: conflict or co-creation?. British Journal of Social Work, 35, 689-708. Jeyapal, D. (2017). The evolving politics of race and social work activism: a call across borders. Social Work, (62)1, 45-52. Lavie-Ajay, M. & Nakash, O. (2017). “If she had helped me to solve the problem at my workplace, she would have cured me”: A critical discourse analysis of a mental health intake. Qualitative Social Work, 16(1), 60-77. Lee, Charmaine J.M., & Goh, Esther C.L. (2020). Using vignettes as a ‘safe space’ for low-income children to discuss sensitive topics in social work assessment. Children and Youth Services Review, 111, 1-11. Lightfoot, Elizabeth, Simmelink, McCleary, & Lum, T. (2014). Asset mapping as a research tool for community-based participatory research in social work. Social Work Research, (38)1, 59-63. Linklater, Renee (2014). Decolonizing trauma work: Indigenous stories and strategies. Fernwood Publishing. Madsen, William (2007). Working within traditional structures to support a collaborative clinical practice. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, No. 2 Madsen, W. C. & Gillespie, K. (2014). Engaging people to envision new lives in Madsen and Gillespie (Eds.). Collaborative helping: A strengths framework for home-based services. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. McGoldrick, M., Gerson, R. & Shellenberger, S. (1999). Developing a genogram to track family patterns in McGoldrick, Gerson & Shellenberger (Eds.) Genograms: assessment and intervention. Milner, Judith, Myers, Steve, & O’Byrne, Patrick (2015). An Explorer Map: Strengths-Based Approaches in Milner, Myers & O’Byrne (Eds.) Assessment in Social Work (pp. 158-180). New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Montigny, Gerald (2018). Social workers’ peculiar contribution to ethnographic research. Qualitative Social Work, 17(3), 452-468. Netting, Ellen F., Kettner, Peter M., McMurtry, Steven L., & Thomas, Lori M. (2017). Assessing Communities in Netting, Kettner, McMurty, & Thomas (Eds.) Social Work Macro Practice (pp. 153-184). Boston, MA: Pearson. Netting, Ellen F., Kettner, Peter M., McMurtry, Steven L., & Thomas, Lori M. (2017). Assessing Community and Organizational Problems in Netting, Kettner, McMurty, & Thomas (Eds.) Social Work Macro Practice (pp. 87-115). Boston, MA: Pearson. Netting, Ellen F., Kettner, Peter M., McMurtry, Steven L., & Thomas, Lori M. (2017). Engaging with Diverse Populations in Netting, Kettner, McMurty, & Thomas (Eds.) Social Work Macro Practice (pp. 59-86). Boston, MA: Pearson. Netting, Ellen F., Kettner, Peter M., McMurtry, Steven L., & Thomas, Lori M. (2017). Understanding Communities in Netting, Kettner, McMurty, & Thomas (Eds.) Social Work Macro Practice (pp.116-187). Boston, MA: Pearson. Peter, O. & Jungbauer, J. (2018). Diagnosis talk and recovery in people with a mental illness: A qualitative study and perspectives for clinical social work. Clinical Social Work Journal ( Rodwell, Mary K. (1987). Naturalistic inquiry: An alternative model for social work assessment. Social Service Review, 61(2), 231-246. Shervington, Denese. (2018). Healing is the revolution. Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies. Srikanthan, S. (2021). Values not our own: Interrogating Psychosocial suitability in the transplant social work assessment. Health and Social Work, (46)4, 308-311. Teasley, Martell Lee, Schiele, Jerome H., Adams, Charles & Okilwa, Nathern (2018). Trayvon martin: Racial profiling, black male stigma, and social work practice. Social Work, (63)1, 37-45. Williams, David R. (2018). Stress and mental health of populations of color: advancing our understanding of race-related stressors. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 59(4), 466-485.

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Lafayette Hall L406 (View Campus Map)


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