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Association of Social Work Boards. Not Teaching to the Test: Critical Thinking and Licensing Exams November 7, 2009. Donna DeAngelis, LICSW, ACSW Executive Director Association of Social Work Boards Stephen M. Marson, LCSW, ACSW, Ph.D

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slide1

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Not Teaching to the Test:

Critical Thinking and Licensing Exams

November 7, 2009

Donna DeAngelis, LICSW, ACSW

Executive Director

Association of Social Work Boards

Stephen M. Marson, LCSW, ACSW, Ph.D

Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

Robert C. Kersting, A.C.S.W., Ph.D.  Professor, Department Chair

Westfield State College

Council on Social Work Education

55th Annual Program Meeting

overview
Overview

Objectives for this panel presentation:

  • Participants will develop a more in depth understanding of the construction of the ASWB social work licensing exam.
  • Participants will expand their understanding of critical thinking skills and its application to licensing test preparation.
  • Participants will share their experiences and thinking on licensing exam preparation to increase all participants’ ability to aid students in their preparation.
slide3

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Overview, philosophy and value

of the test

Donna DeAngelis

Executive Director

Association of Social Work Boards

slide4

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

An Orderly Mind:

Is it a scary thing?

And what does that have to do with the licensing exam?

slide5

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

The best approach to take in preparing for and passing the social work licensing exam is to be well-grounded in the basics of the profession—the knowledge—with the ability to apply critical thinking as needed.

The exams have been developed logically, and are scored and maintained logically. There is nothing mysterious or “tricky” about them.

slide6

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

First, they are a fact

of life—as sure as

many other facts.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, and all ten Canadian provinces have licensing. Most use the ASWB exam.

In 2008, more than 30,000 social work applicants took one form of the exam—the Bachelors, the Masters, the Advanced Generalist, or the Clinical.

slide7

There is a code of ethics

  • that all practitioners
  • are expected to follow

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

  • There is an accepted body of
  • knowledge

?

?

What makes a licensed profession?

slide8

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Would you get an unlicensed

contractor to build your house?

Take your dog to an unlicensed vet?

Place your rehabilitation into the hands of a physical therapist with no license?

slide9

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

It’s about public protection.

Standards have to be set to make sure your social worker is competent. That’s where the exam comes in.

But it has to be reliable and defensible. That’s why it’s done so carefully, and so logically.

slide10

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

The ASWB exams are based on a practice analysis, a survey of the profession. Such surveys are done about every seven years. One is in progress now.

slide11

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

ASWB has done four practice analyses since 1980. A fifth one is underway.

1981 – first practice analysis

1983 – first exams administered

1988 – revalidation study

1990 – new exams

1996 – new practice analysis

1998 – new examinations

2003 – new practice analysis

2004 – new exams

2008 – new practice analysis

2011 – new exams

slide12

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Once there is a content outline, questions are written by contracted writers to fill the blueprint.

Then they go to the Exam Committee, for review and editing.

slide13

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

The

2009 Exam

Committee

slide14

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

What can students expect these edited questions to look like?

They are four-option multiple choice, and may appear as a question, with a question mark, or they may be incomplete sentences.

slide15

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Straightforward question

A social worker is conducting personal safety seminars for senior citizens. What kind of activity is this?

(A) Social planning

(B) Community development

(C) Primary prevention (key)

(D) Secondary prevention

slide16

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Incomplete sentence

  • A social worker who conducts personal safety seminars for senior citizens is engaging in primary prevention, since the:
  • social worker is in a client relationship with the senior citizens
  • (B) safety seminars are a valuable public
  • service
  • (C) senior citizens are considered an
  • at-risk population
  • (D) social worker is helping people to
  • avoid problems (key)
slide17

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Each question has another

property—a cognitive level. The three levels used on the ASWB exams are recall, application and reasoning. There is a higher percentage of recall questions than reasoning questions on the Bachelors exam; as the education and experience requirements for taking the exam increase, from Bachelors to Clinical, the percentage of reasoning items goes up.

slide18

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

This is what a recall question looks like.

  • Which symptom is MOST prevalent in persons with major depressive episode?
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Sleep disturbance (key)
  • Hallucinations
  • Negative view of the future
slide19

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

And this is an application question.

  • A social worker is called to the medical ward of a hospital to evaluate a patient who is reported talking to insects. What should the social worker do FIRST?
  • See the patient individually
  • Consult with the nursing staff (key)
  • Call the social work supervisor
  • Elicit past history from the family
slide20

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

Reasoning.

  • A social worker is conducting an
  • evaluation of a new client, who is concerned about constant worrying. The client is checking all doors and windows every night, to be sure they are locked, and frequently checks them several times. The social worker should FIRST tell the client that:
  • Sessions are needed to explore the causes of thebehavior (key)
  • The client should keep a log of the rechecks for sixweeks
  • (C) The behavior is not a serious concern
  • (D) Goals need to be established
slide21

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

But preparation is what students want to know about, right? Not the reasons for having an exam, not the careful development of the tests, not the need to approach questions logically.

slide22

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

ASWB can offer two ways to prepare: one is the study guide, a book that has been around for a long time, with a description of the exam development process and a 50-question practice test.

slide23

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

The other is a relatively new source

for preparation, the online practice test. This is a 170-question exam that is made up of actual exam questions that are no longer in use, presented in the same computerized format as the real thing.

It includes correct answers, a chance to review missed questions, and rationales for the correct answer.

The online exam can also be obtained in a version that can be used by social work educators in a group setting.

slide24

Association of

Social

Work

Boards

With good preparation and a critical thinking approach to the exam, social workers will be successful at passing.

And they’ll know they have demonstrated their knowledge on a reliable examination that serves as a portal to safe practice in their profession.

question development
Question Development

Stephen M. Marson, LCSW, ACSW, Ph.D

Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

slide31

Figure 6

Flowchart for

Item Development

slide32

Figure 7

  • A social worker approaches a client in the waiting room of a mental health clinic. The client stands, then has a seizure. The social worker observes that the seizure is mild and that unconsciousness is brief. The client is breathing, and no injury or major consequence is evident. The social worker should NEXT:
  • inquire whether the client has had previous seizures
  • tell other clients to leave the area
  • ask the client if medical care is necessary
  • call for emergency medical services
  • Correct Response = D
slide33

Figure 8

  • █████████████████████████████████████████████?
  • ███████████████████
  • ███████████████████████████████
  • █████████████
  • ███████████████████████████████████████
  • Keyed Response = A

Text

NOTE: Because the data is from a test item currently being used, the entire item must be concealed.

critical thinking test taking
Critical Thinking &Test Taking

Robert C. Kersting, A.C.S.W., Ph.D.  Professor, Department Chair Westfield State College

critical thinking
Critical Thinking

Why critical thinking?

  • “Decision making, whether explicit or implicit, is at the heart of clinical practice” (Gambrill, 1990)
critical thinking1
Critical Thinking

What is critical thinking?

  • Critical thinking is a process used by social workers to determine which if any sets of beliefs about a given issue warrant our using these beliefs in our practice. This is a process that requires social workers to evaluate evidence and arguments with diligence and open-mindedness. This includes the reality that we often do not find absolute answers but are required to weigh the evidence or arguments that we find to make practice decisions regarding our clients. This process also requires us to reevaluate decisions and beliefs based on the presentation of new evidence.
critical thinking process
Critical Thinking Process
  • Clarify the belief or position presented
  • Identify the evidence or argument presented
  • Evaluate the evidence and/or argument
  • Determine what you believe now
  • Integrate new beliefs into your practice
  • Be open to new evidence
a model for testing
A Model for Testing
  • Carefully read the questions (Clarify what is asked)What is the main knowledge needed to answer?Evaluate your knowledge for application to the question What do you think is the correct answer?Evaluate all answers in regard to your correct answerSelect best answer
critical thinking testing
Critical Thinking & Testing
  • Carefully read the questions (Clarify what is asked)What is the main knowledge needed to answer?Evaluate your knowledge for application to the question What do you think is the correct answer?Evaluate all answers in regard to your correct answerSelect best answer
  • Clarify the belief or position presented
  • Identify the evidence or argument presented
  • Evaluate the evidence and/or argument
  • Determine what you believe now
  • Integrate new beliefs into your practice
  • Be open to new evidence
slide40
For a copy of these slides:They will be posted at the CSWE site for the APM oremail: rkersting@wsc.ma.edu