Social Work Students' Exposure to and Attitudes Towards Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. College of Social Work Honors Theses; 2012
The undergraduate social work curriculum serves as a significant pedagogical platform, shaping and stimulating students’ practice interests and preparedness to interact with the diverse populations present within our society. One population that is underrepresented in terms of its educational presence in the undergraduate social work curriculum is that of individuals with developmental disabilities. Recent studies have shown the positive outcomes associated with incorporating general disability awareness content within the primary education curriculum. However, few studies assess the role of developmental disability studies in undergraduate social work education. This research seeks to better understand attitudes towards individuals with developmental disabilities that are held by undergraduate social work (BSSW) students, their enthusiasm for working with this particular population, and their sense of preparation to do so based on information received in the BSSW curriculum and their life experiences. Data were collected from 142 sophomore, junior, and senior level students within the BSSW program at The Ohio State University. One group was beginning the program and a comparison group was completing the program. Participants completed a paper survey that assessed a number of factors including personal and professional attitudes toward individuals with developmental disabilities and educational exposure to the study of developmental disabilities. Attitude items followed viewing of a video segment showing a man with a developmental disability. Findings demonstrate that students felt that they had only minimum exposure to developmental disability content within the BSSW curriculum. The majority of participants projected a positive attitude towards individuals with developmental disabilities, and many expressed a desire to learn more about this particular population. Results revealed no significant differences between the two levels of students. Improving the curriculum to include developmental disability content could enhance students’ professional preparedness and ability to ensure that the needs of this vulnerable population are met.