#ESCUNO2016 Annual Conference – 10/12/16

Day 2 at the Engaged Scholarship Consortium, and today I am presenting with my colleague Dr. Erika Rinker about our experiences with the UAB Fellows in Engaged Scholarship Program.  Unfortunately, our beloved colleague Libba Vaughan, who is really the mastermind behind the program, could not join us today.  We hope to do her proud with this presentation.   If you are at the conference, please join us in CenturyLink Room 207 at 1:45 PM today.

Our presentation provides an overview of a faculty development program providing a one-year fellowship to selected faculty members eager to develop exemplary curricular service learning approaches in higher education. Erika and I (Social Work and Foreign Languages and Literatures) will share our experiences as fellows in the program and lessons we learned.

Here is our abstract:

rinkerhitchcock_escpresentation_oct2016_10-4-16This presentation provides an overview of an urban research university’s faculty development program that provides a one-year fellowship to selected faculty members eager to develop exemplary curricular service learning approaches in higher education. The goal of the program is to help faculty members develop a strong background in service learning pedagogy and provide a venue for them to design a new course or to modify an existing course to include a service learning component. The Fellows program is structured around a year-long series of workshops that explore theories, implementation, and assessment of academic service learning and how to integrate this methodology into courses across a variety of disciplines and professional programs. In its’ third year, the program has supported 33 faculty fellows to date. Participants attending this presentation will learn about the program’s history and implementation, application process, workshop topics, and successes and challenges. Further, two fellows (Social Work and Foreign Languages and Literatures) from the program will describe their experiences and perspectives their year-long fellowship including changes to their courses, pedagogy and becoming part of a community of inquiry focused on engaged scholarship. Their perspectives will provide differences and similarities between educators working in the humanities/liberal arts and professional healthcare-based educational programs.

Click here to access the slides from the presentation.

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#ESCUNO2016 Annual Conference – 10/11/16

This week, I’m attending the 2016 annual conference for the Engaged Scholarship Consortium in Omaha, Nebraska.  Yes, returning to the Midwest for a few days!  Over the next two days, I’ll be presenting with three colleagues from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Drs. Erika Rinker, Laura Debiasi and Sallie Shipman.

Today, I will be presenting a poster with Laura and Sallie about our work with poverty simulations at #UAB.  If you are at the conference, please join us at the Poster Session in the CenturyLink Ballroom C at 3:30 PM. Our work focuses on why and how we started implementing poverty simulations with students from diverse majors and professional programs across our campus.  Poverty simulations are increasingly common in higher education, offering an innovative modality to increase students’ understanding of poverty. The simulation enables participants to view poverty from different angles in an experiential setting. The poster will cover implementation of poverty simulations and present preliminary findings on the learning outcomes for students.  Other member of our working group were not able to join us at the Conference, Allyson Varley and Drs. Dawn Talyor Peterson and Marjorie Lee White.

Here is our abstract:

csweposterAccording to the US Census Bureau, approximately 46.7 million people, or 14.8% of the US population, lived in poverty in 2014.  Social work, nursing, and other health and human service students provide services to people living in poverty, both in school and in the workforce.  Therefore, it is essential that students understand and empathize with the common challenges faced by people living in poverty.

The poverty simulation enables participants to view poverty from different angles in an experiential, team-based setting.  The most common simulation is the Community Action Poverty Simulation (CAPS), created by the Missouri Association for Community Action (MACA).  During a simulation, participants are placed into teams of families where they seek to provide food, shelter and other basic necessities during the simulation while interacting with various community resources staffed by low-income volunteers. The literature shows that the CAPS poverty simulations are a well-received valid learning tool for increasing awareness and understanding of the complexities of poverty. Students who complete a poverty simulation report increased sensitivity to and awareness of the problems for people living in poverty and state that they are more likely to engage in social action to address poverty in their communities.

Participants who attend this presentation will: 1) learn the basic mechanics of a poverty simulation and how it is an effect tool of engaged learning for economic justice; 2) determine how educators can duplicate the planning process for a poverty simulation at their own institutions; and 3) appreciate the role of professional collaboration in the planning and development of service-learning projects across a curriculum. The presenters will share their experiences in executing the simulation, and assessing students learning outcomes with reflection essays and pre-post surveys.  Lessons learned from the project will be shared and implications for poverty education will be reviewed.


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#SWvirtualpal: Hashtagging for Connection

This post was written by myself and my colleague, Amanda Taylor from the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kindgom.  Please check out Amanda’s work with ‘Use of Book Groups in Social Work Education’, which can be found on Twitter: @SWBookGroup. She is definitely one of my #SWvirtualpals.

smart_phone_texting_block_text_10927-1Pen Pals have been a ‘thing’ for a very long time.  The earliest record of their usage, that we can find, is reported as being led by an ‘innovative Iowa teacher’ called Birdie Matthews, who at the time employed the methodology to bring the realities of WW II into the classroom (Myers-Verhage, 1995). Matthews  creativity in the classroom quite possibly led to one of the most famous pen pal relationships of all time, and this was between Juanita Wagner (her student at the time) and Anne Frank.  So why are we telling you all of this?  Well, before the internet the likelihood of a social work academic in the US, working closely and supportively with a social work academic in the UK would have been ‘virtually’ unheard of, or indeed a fairly disparate affair, which would have been laborious to maintain.  However, thankfully for us technologies have changed the way we work and the way we connect.  Today’s digital and social media  present all sorts of possibilities and opportunities; and being social workers with our default set on creativity, we decided quite a way back now to exploit all it is that technology affords.

Our mutual interests in creative teaching methodologies and an awareness of the benefits of digitalization led to us connecting online, via twitter… neither of us can actually remember when or why but it is suffice to say our like-mindedness took control.  A fairly recent Skype chat highlighted that us being together in the same space was not going to result in any other than trouble and it is in this blog that we would like to offer you all the opportunity to join us in our troublesome-ness.  Why do we use the word trouble?  Well we are all so busy and never have enough time to do everything we want to do … this was pretty much how the conversation went.  But once we got past this the need to create and innovate overtook.  We talked about connections and the benefits of being connected.  We talked about geography and shared ideas and resources about ‘connectography’ (Khanna, 2016), and the way in which the world is becoming a smaller place and also a much more diverse place.  We went on to think about our respective student groups and how we could facilitate their learning in terms of the wider world.  This for one reason or another led us to the notion of peer support, communities of learning and the fact that exposure to knowledge did not need to be such a local affair.  Within these creative moments we came up with the idea of social work pen pals.  We thought about how pre-modern digitization – the pen and paper technologies – facilitated connections and how that we had at our fingertips Twitter, a device and the hashtag.  

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Talking Technology Competency in the Social Work Classroom


Elise Johnson, LCSW is a clinical social worker at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center/Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital of Long Beach. She has practiced social work in the L.A. area for over 20 years in the areas of health care, mental health, homelessness and child welfare.  She is also a part time lecturer. She is by no means an expert in technology but is always on the lookout for technological innovations that could help clients and students. In this blog post, she writes about how she incorporates technology into her MSW courses.

I’ve been in the field of social work for nearly twenty five years, and I’ve been a lecturer for two and a half at California State University, Dominguez Hills.  I teach two theory classes (Human Behavior I and II) in the MSW program.  Given my clinical background, my overarching message in HBSE (Human Behavior and the Social Environment) is that theory is viable and applicable to contemporary social work practice.  The incorporation of technology into my pedagogy is an important element of that framework.  Integral to my teaching approach is the view that technology is an asset, an assistive value; one that should be viewed through a strengths-based lens similar to  every other aspect of our profession. Initially, I decided to dedicate a week to the topic of technology in social work practice,  and over the last couple of years, I have updated long-standing assignments by embedding them technology-based elements. For example, first year MSW students are developing competencies conducting bio-psychosocial assessments in other courses,  In  HBSE I, I encourage them to expand this traditional assessment to include an assessment of their clients’ technology literacy, access, strengths and risk factors across the lifespan.   By integrating course content and assignments around technology in social work practice, students not only understand the role of  technology in social work, they also learn to apply and practice with the very technology they may use in the real-world.  

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