First Advisor

Ann Curry-Stevens

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work




Political advocacy, Policy practice, Social welfare policy, Social work education -- Study and teaching (Graduate), Social advocacy -- Study and teaching (Graduate), Human services -- Practice



Physical Description

1 online resource (ix, 273 pages)


Students of accredited social work programs are expected to demonstrate ten core competencies, including the ability to "engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services" (Council on Social Work Education, 2008). Despite this expectation, almost half of licensed social workers surveyed disagreed with the notion that they were adequately prepared for political engagement by their social work education (Ritter, 2007). Because social welfare policy courses are the primary curricular means for preparing generalist social workers for political advocacy, this study explores how undergraduate students respond to social welfare policy instructors' efforts to prepare them for political engagement. Quantitative and qualitative data from social work students in two distinct social welfare policy courses support the idea that participation in such a course can contribute to an increase in political interest and internal political efficacy. Based on surveys (n=31), focus groups (n=28), and interviews (n=11) with students, a model for social welfare policy instruction is proposed, which includes 11 recommended teaching methods and 7 key aspects of the students' learning experience. By listening to the voices and experiences of social work students, this study begins to fill a gap in the social work education and policy practice literature. The final conclusions of the study help clarify for social work educators methodologies by which they can more effectively support students in the development of political interest, internal political efficacy, and ultimately policy practice.


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Portland State University. Social Work and Social Research Ph. D. Program

Persistent Identifier