Gatekeeping in BSW Programs

Gatekeeping in BSW Programs

Patty Gibbs
Eleanor H. Blakely
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 480
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/gibb11050
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Gatekeeping in BSW Programs
    Book Description:

    Social work educators and degree program administrators face difficult issues concerning law, student rights, and social justice in their role as gatekeepers of the social work profession. How, and why, should baccalaureate social work programs afford or restrict access to the profession? When do gatekeeping strategies mask educators' reluctance to tackle some of the more thorny issues that have plagued higher education in general, for example, academe's often limited success in addressing a variety of student special needs? Balancing the interests of a diverse student population, a baccalaureate program, and the profession--to say nothing of the clients--challenges gatekeepers' creativity to the utmost.

    This all-in-one resource, written by social work educators with special interests and expertise in gatekeeping, provides the knowledge and tools that faculty and administrators need to carry out their duties conscientiously and appropriately.Gatekeeping in BSW Programscovers the history of gatekeeping and its major issues, legal matters in the field, and strategies and processes of gatekeeping; it also includes useful appendixes of materials and tools, such as sample questions for student admissions and various sample academic policies.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50499-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Lorrie Greenhouse Gardella

    Baccalaureate social work education has served as a gateway to the profession for diverse student populations: ethnic minority students, immigrant students, students with low incomes, returning adult students, and students from rural areas. As baccalaureate social work educators, we are responsible both for gatekeeping and for preserving this gateway. We fail the profession when we graduate unsuitable social workers. We also fail when, for lack of financial or academic support, gifted prospective social workers do not enter the profession.

    In the professional literature, we educators have supported the BSW gateway by presenting research on recruiting and retaining ethnic minority students,...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Patty Gibbs
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Contributors
    (pp. xix-xxx)
  7. Part I. Background and Issues
    • 1 Introduction: The Arena of Gatekeeping
      (pp. 3-21)
      Patty Gibbs and Harry J. Macy

      In social work education, selective evaluation, screening, and retention of students are decision arenas in which students’ rights and interests, faculty’s responsibilities, program integrity, institutional policies, professional practice standards, social work’s ethical principles, and the legal requirements of higher education converge. Few program operations are viewed as more complex, troublesome, and emotionally charged than the gatekeeping component of the educational enterprise. And few program operations are imbued with more mystery and misunderstanding.

      Even the termgatekeepinginvokes different notions in the minds of those who are responsible for the evaluation, selection, and retention of students. Some see gatekeeping as a...

    • 2 The Ethics of Gatekeeping
      (pp. 22-44)
      David Royse

      A long, long time ago in a university far, far away a student enrolled in a social work program. He was a handsome, personable fellow with one of those gifts for speaking pleasantly and knowledgeably—most everyone was assured of his competence, sincerity, and integrity.

      The student traveled many hours from his humble home each day, climbing hills, fording streams, and cutting paths through the woods to reach the fortress of higher learning. Possibly because he was also a full-time knight in an agency serving despairing and discouraged humankind, faculty were understanding and patient when he missed classes because of...

    • 3 The History of Gatekeeping
      (pp. 45-59)
      Linda S. Moore and David A. Jenkins

      Gatekeeping is not new to social work education; it was a component of social work’s earliest venture into preparing workers for effective practice (Moore and Urwin 1990, 1991). Since the late 1800s the profession has attempted to provide relevant education to adequately train professional social workers. It also has emphasized guarding the gate to the profession to ensure that there is evidence that students have internalized instructional material before they graduate and begin to practice.

      In this chapter, we will trace the background and history of gatekeeping in social work education in order to emphasize that the charge to guard...

    • 4 Gatekeeping in BSW Programs: A Review of the Research
      (pp. 60-72)
      Nancy P. Kropf

      Baccalaureate programs in social work education have the responsibility to provide educational experiences, socialization, and opportunities to prepare students for entry into social work practice. In addition to the educational function, programs are also expected to serve as “the keeper of the gate” to the social work profession (Moore and Urwin 1990:114). Under BSW accreditation standards, all programs must have procedures to determine the suitability of the students for entry-level practice (Council on Social Work Education [CSWE] 1994). Gatekeeping involves two different processes: restricting entry to a program (i.e., denying admission) and termination of the educational process (i.e., dismissal, screening...

    • 5 Gatekeeping in Social Work Education: Achieving Diversity and Excellence
      (pp. 73-106)
      Wanda D. Bracy

      The need to increase the number of professionally educated persons of color has been discussed in the social work literature for several decades. Much of the literature in social work education on the recruitment and retention of students of color was published more than twenty-five years ago. While this literature has been primarily concerned with graduate education in social work, many of the techniques and strategies can be applied to undergraduate education and remain relevant today. However, since this literature was published, attitudes and laws regarding the use of racial preferences in admissions have changed. While there is extensive literature...

    • 6 Gatekeeping in Field Education
      (pp. 107-134)
      Ginny Terry Raymond

      Education for social work practice began as apprenticeships with seasoned practitioners. Eventually courses were taught to workers as in-service training in agencies, then later at colleges and universities. Summer courses evolved into a full, year-long program, then a two-year curriculum. Regardless of the amount or design of coursework, the practicum or field placement has remained central to education for social work throughout its history.

      Many in the profession believe that the quality of the practicum directly affects the quality of the entire educational program and, eventually, the quality of social work practiced by graduates (Task Force 1983). Field education is...

    • 7 Creating a Bridging Environment: The Screening-in Process in BSW Programs
      (pp. 135-148)
      Robert G. Madden

      Social work educators have long understood their responsibilities to ensure that graduates are competent to practice social work (Feldstein 1972; Reynolds 1942).Gatekeepingis the term used to describe this duty, which has included the development of assessment and evaluation strategies at various points in the students’ professional development. The ultimate goals of gatekeeping are quality control, program integrity, and protection of those seeking services from graduates. Many of the discussions and articles on this topic over the last several years have focused on the need to tighten our gatekeeping, with a heavy emphasis on more rigorous admissions screening (Hepler...

    • 8 Screening Students Out of BSW Programs: Responding to Professional Obligations and Institutional Challenges
      (pp. 149-168)
      Patty Gibbs

      Accreditation standards advanced by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) require programs to articulate and implement criteria and processes that select from a group of admissions applicants those who are “best qualified to become professional social workers at a beginning level of practice” (1994:87). Gatekeeping in its broadest sense requires screening students at various points throughout the professional program (Moore and Urwin 1990), for example, during introductory courses, at the point of admissions and entry to the field placement, prior to and during field experiences, and throughout the professional foundation coursework. Studies of gatekeeping at the BSW level confirm...

  8. Part II. Legal Perspectives
    • 9 Legal Issues Facing Social Work Academia
      (pp. 171-194)
      Robert G. Madden and Norman H. Cobb

      Prior to the early 1960s, administrators, faculty, and staff exercised considerable “parental authority” (locus parentis) over students enrolled in colleges and universities. Kaplin (1985) identifies several reasons for this degree of authority given to faculty and administration. The university held a unique place in society. Faculty were seen as having a special mission to be “guardians of knowledge,” which required considerable expertise and intelligence. This resulted in a high level of status and respect accorded to faculty and administrators. In this atmosphere, it was considered inappropriate for an outsider to presume to tell an institution of higher education how to...

    • 10 Disability Law and Undergraduate Social Work Education: Practicing What We Preach
      (pp. 195-211)
      Robert G. Madden

      A student who has been doing poorly in her academics and is about to be dismissed from the social work program announces to the faculty that she has a learning disability. She asks to be allowed to retake a course, and to have the college pay for a tutor to assist her in writing her papers.

      A student who is visually impaired requests that all assignments be done on tape. Faculty are concerned about assessment and integration of theory. Also the student’s request to have a math requirement waived has been rejected by the college.

      A student is denied admission...

    • 11 Court Cases and Judicial Opinions Related to Gatekeeping in Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools
      (pp. 212-235)
      Bettie S. Cole and Robert G. Lewis

      The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) requires programs to be responsible for establishing procedures to determine the “suitability” of the students it graduates. Suitability must be determined both at admission and throughout the time a student is in the social work education program (CSWE 1994:87, Evaluative Standard 5). Making suitability decisions is a difficult task and requires a working knowledge of the legal parameters within which such decisions may be made.

      This chapter presents an annotated list of court cases and federal statutes and regulations related to academic and disciplinary decisions affecting student admissions and retention in professional programs....

    • 12 Ethics Charges Against BSW Students: Principles and Case Examples
      (pp. 236-256)
      Norman H. Cobb, Penny Smith Ramsdell and Ski Hunter

      For more than two years, the social work program at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), a state-supported university, has been implementing specific guidelines for evaluating students whose behavior or ethics seemed inappropriate for the social work profession. Before the guidelines were implemented, the social work faculty had grown pessimistic and cynical about the successful management of troublesome students. For example, when someone questioned the ethical nature of a student’s behavior, the faculty and administration differed over various procedural and constitutional questions: What constitutes a fair hearing? What types of evidence are fair and required by law? How much...

  9. Part III. Strategies and Processes
    • 13 Academic Standards for Admission and Retention
      (pp. 259-278)
      Patty Gibbs and Eleanor H. Blakely

      In recent years, one of the clearest and most important messages to emerge from the literature on gatekeeping in social work education has been thatallcriteria, standards, and performance expectations must be framed asacademicstandards if they are to hold up in court (Cobb 1994; Cobb and Jordan 1989; Cole and Lewis 1993; Madden 1993). A growing body of case law indicates it is essential that academic criteria include not only standards for scholastic performance but also standards for professional behavior, whether the standards are for student admissions, retention, or termination.

      Most social work faculty, however, have failed...

    • 14 Admission Reviews in Baccalaureate Social Work Programs: Is There a Role for Social Work Practitioners?
      (pp. 279-292)
      Hope O. Hagar

      Gatekeeping in baccalaureate social work education has received increased attention in recent years, and it has generally been acknowledged that screening for professionally suitable students begins with the admission review process (Born and Carroll 1988; Cobb and Jordan 1989; Gibbs 1994; Hepler and Noble 1990; McClelland, Rindfleisch, and Bean 1991; Moore and Urwin 1990, 1991; Peterman and Blake 1986; Taylor and Witte 1943). This position is clearly articulated in accreditation standards, which state that “criteria and processes of admission should be designed and implemented to accept from the group of applicants those who . . . are best qualified to...

    • 15 Psychological Testing as a Tool in Assessing Undergraduate Students for Admission to a Baccalaureate Social Work Program
      (pp. 293-307)
      Rose Bogal-Allbritten and Bill Allbritten

      The ongoing discussion and debate about the gatekeeping process in social work education raises many questions about the validity of the criteria used in screening out students considered to be unsuitable candidates for the social work profession. While the majority of baccalaureate programs use a formal screening process (Gibbs 1994; Urwin 1991), many programs continue to define admissions criteria in primarily academic terms. Overall grade point average (GPA) and GPA in the major as well as completion of prerequisite courses appear to be the most frequently used admissions criteria. The most frequently cited GPA in Gibbs’s (1994) survey of baccalaureate...

    • 16 Developing a Policy on Sharing Sensitive Information About Students with Field Instructors
      (pp. 308-331)
      Linda Cherrey Reeser and Robert Wertkin

      Faculty liaisons and field instructors serve an important function as critical gatekeepers for the profession. Students who do well in the classroom sometimes perform poorly in field placement as a result of unresolved emotional issues, traumas, disabilities, or illnesses. In some instances these issues, problems, and conditions make students unsuitable for working with certain client populations or even for entering the social work profession in general. If relevant personal information about students is kept from field directors, liaisons, or field instructors, inappropriate matches may be made between students and field placements, the student’s learning may be adversely affected, and clients...

    • 17 Portfolio Assessment
      (pp. 332-358)
      Patty Gibbs and Lynn Frantz Adkins

      Portfolio assessment is an alternative assessment practice used to document and to evaluate the growth, development, and achievement of students over a period of time (Seely 1994), whether that period is as short as a semester or as extended as the four-year curriculum. If we think of assessment practices as falling along a continuum, portfolio assessment is on the opposite pole from standardized assessment practices. Rather than telling a story of a student’s learning over time, as is true in portfolio assessment, standardized assessment provides a single snapshot of a student’s knowledge at a particular moment in time (De Fina...

    • 18 The Use of Comprehensive Exit Exams
      (pp. 359-378)
      Lynn Frantz Adkins

      Throughout higher education, assessment of students by faculty is a fundamental component of establishing the level of the students’ achievement and evaluating the curriculum. Consequently, student assessment occurs at various points in the educational process and for various reasons. On the one hand, evaluation of student performance and learning is an accountability issue, that is, a measure of the degree to which the program is achieving its intended outcomes (see, for example, Slaght, Raskin, and Davis 1995). On the other hand, assessment of students is a gatekeeping issue. Individual students are assessed to determine their readiness to enter the program,...

  10. Part IV: Appendixes:: Gatekeeping Materials and Sample Tools
    • Appendix 1. Questions for Student Admissions Essay
      (pp. 381-383)
    • Appendix 2. Sample BSW Admissions Rating Sheet
      (pp. 384-387)
    • Appendix 3. Student Admissions Contract and Code of Conduct
      (pp. 388-389)
    • Appendix 4. Academic Performance Review Policy: Student Continuation, Review, and Dismissal
      (pp. 390-397)
    • Appendix 5. Informed Consent Form for Psychological Testing
      (pp. 398-399)
    • Appendix 6. Student Self-Assessment
      (pp. 400-404)
    • Appendix 7. Volunteer Experience Materials
      (pp. 405-408)
    • Appendix 8. Reference Letter Form
      (pp. 409-411)
    • Appendix 9. Field Instruction Tool for Evaluation of Student Performance
      (pp. 412-418)
    • Appendix 10. Grading Checklist
      (pp. 419-420)
    • Appendix 11. Critical Thinking Rubric
      (pp. 421-422)
    • Appendix 12. Syllabus Demonstrating Use of Portfolio Assessment
      (pp. 423-434)
    • Appendix 13. Commission on Accreditation Supplement to the Handbook of Accreditation Standards and Procedures: Guidelines for Termination for Academic and Professional Reasons
      (pp. 435-436)
    • Appendix 14. Comparing Codes of Ethics: An Assignment for Developing Critical-Thinking Abilities
      (pp. 437-438)
  11. Index
    (pp. 439-465)