Practitioners' views of continuing education
Funk, Joan R.
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The importance of Continuing Education (CE) is consistently highlighted across numerous professions. In social work, continuing professional education is well documented (Apps, 1981; Barker, 1990; Christ, 1996; Herie & Martin, 2002; Kane, Hamlin, & Green, 2001). A review of the literature on CE in social work, however, indicates that social work practitioners are struggling with many low quality programs that are often either irrelevant to practice, redundant in course content, inconvenient to access, and burdensome both in financial costs and time away from the office While many social work authors and scholars report numerous problems with existing systems of continuing education in social work, there is no empirical evidence to support these claims. Additionally, practitioners have not been solicited to give their views on the services they are receiving. The purpose of the study was to document practitioner views of the continuing educational offerings they are receiving. Specifically this study sought to provide data relative to the practitioner’s participation in continuing education and levels of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with current systems of CE. Two hundred and twenty social workers, all of whom were currently working in the field of social work at the time of the survey participated in the study. Major findings provided some support for problems with the seminar/conference as a mode of CE service delivery in that seminars and conferences were negatively related to practitioner satisfaction levels. Other major findings indicated that study participants chose serving their clients as their number one reason for participating in CE and that quality of services was positively correlated with satisfaction levels. Bivariate correlations and results of multiple regression also provided preliminary information about the relationship between practitioner satisfaction and convenience of access to services, cost of services and descriptive data relative to the professional background of the participants. Implications of the study are discussed as well as a comparative analysis of study results as they support or disagree with reports found in social work literature. In conclusion, the significance of the study is discussed and recommendations for future research are discussed.