Would you recommend this program to a friend? A mixed-method approach to providing student feedback to social work programs Conference Poster (Faculty180)

cited authors

  • Petra, Megan M; Robb, Brian; Guardiola, Louis


  • Background and Purpose: While it is standard practice in the corporate world for customers to rate businesses, solicitation of student feedback on social work programs is less common. Students typically rate instructors at the end of each semester, but such feedback doesn’t supply the program with guidance on other aspects of the program such as implicit curriculum, availability and timing of classes, advising, or quality of field education. Without such student feedback, social work programs are unable to respond to unknown student needs. Moreover, prospective students are unable to utilize nonexistent student ratings when choosing a graduate program. This project represents a student-led effort to provide student feedback to a Midwestern social work program. Methods: A mixed-methods online survey was offered to all (N=75) MSW students via email, a student Facebook group and word of mouth. Quantitative questions solicited feedback on classes, instructors, field education, and advising. Students were also invited to comment on aspects of the program (e.g., organization, learning expectations, and professors). Quantitative responses from the 29 completed surveys were analyzed with SPSS. Chi-square tests identified associations between student recommendations and satisfaction with various program components. Qualitative data were coded by two raters to ensure reliability. Results: Most students (62%) would recommend the program to others, though the remaining students had reservations about the program. Students who recommended the program were also likely to agree with four statements about the program: that there was clear communication about what they would learn in the program (p = .02), that the program was well organized (p = .002), that the program met their learning expectations (p = .001), and that professors delivered quality educational content (p = .001). Qualitative themes provided information about areas of the program that non-recommenders felt needed improvement. Primary reasons for not recommending the program included field placement/class scheduling that conflicted with their work hours, and lack of specialized clinical or macro training in the advanced generalist program. There were also concerns about a few (primarily adjunct) instructors who were disorganized, failed to provide clear instructions, cancelled classes at the last minute, or who did not hold students to high enough standards. Qualitative themes informed quantitative results. Those who felt the program was not well organized or didn’t meet their learning expectations rarely mentioned specific program-level problems; instead, they cited issues with individual instructors as examples of the program’s inadequacies. Conclusions and Implications: Students presented the study findings to faculty and staff, who launched a series of all-program meetings. These were an opportunity for students to offer feedback and for students, faculty and staff to begin to collectively craft solutions to program weaknesses. Anonymous student feedback will also be sought on an ongoing basis. Regular solicitation of feedback from social work students can allow programs to identify aspects of the program which are problems and/or strengths. Online surveys such as the one in the present study are fast, easily analyzed, and may be used on an ongoing basis to strengthen social work education programs.

publication date

  • 2017

presented at event