Creation and validation of the social work student self-appraisal inventory
King, Michael Eugene
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Current efforts to evaluate social work education rely on traditional outcome measures with well-known limitations (Buchan, 1991). The fact that students in both B.S.W. and M.S.W. programs continue to report feeling unprepared for practice in real world settings (DeWeaver & Kropf, 1995) and the lack of emipirical evidence showing that specific skills taught in class transfer to practice (Sowers-Hoag & Thyer, 1985) are evidence of these shortcomings. To address such problems, educators have begun to apply Bandura's (1977) construct of perceived self-efficacy to professional social work education (Cherniss, 1993; Holden, Meenaghan, Anastas, & Metrey, 2002; Koob, 1998). The social work student Self-Appraisal Inventory (SAI) was developed to provide a reliable and valid measure of perceived self-efficacy, based on current professional curriculum standards, for use specifically with social work students. The purpose of the first phase of this study was to create and pilot test a pool of items that reflect the content of the most recent version of the Council on Social Work Education’s policy and accreditation standards. Internal consistency reliability and factorial validity, using exploratory factor analysis, of the SAI were estimated in phase one. The second phase of this investigation was designed to be an initial validation of the SAI, using confirmatory factor analysis. A cross-sectional survey methodology and correlational analyses were used to investigate convergent, discriminant, and factorial construct validity and internal consistency reliability of the SAI with a non-random sample BSW and MSW students. The results of both phases of inquiry provided good preliminary support for the reliability and validity of the social work student Self-Appraisal Inventory. Such an empirically validated self-efficacy instrument could provide a valuable onging measure of student capability in CSWE-accredited schools of social work. The SAI could be used by educators to tailor curricula and provide feedback on program strengths, potentially improving the quality of services provided by students in practice settings. Despite the need for future cross-validation studies using the SAI, the findings of this investigation suggest that the SAI would be an appropriate and effective measure of social work student self-efficacy in academic settings.