Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

College of Social Work

Sub-Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Terry A Wolfer

Abstract

This dissertation reports on the development and beginning validation of a summated scale, the Inventory of Professional Competencies (IPC). The scale reflects self-reported competencies gained by Masters of Social Work (MSW) students at the University of South Carolina's College of Social Work. The research stretched over five years, 2005-2009, with data collected from approximately 559 different MSW students using different research designs during five separate stages of scale development. Using factor analysis, the new measure yielded strong internal reliability consistently over three separate administrations. The pilot test in stage III yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .97, stage IV yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .95, and stage V yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .96. Further, the final scale administration yielded strong validity when compared to the Inventory of Professional Functioning, showing that no relationship exists (r = -.04, p>.65). Further, variables such as age (r = -16, n = 309, p>.01) and total years worked prior to entering the MSW program (r = -.18, n = 318, p>0.002), although statistically significant, bear no strong relationship to students' rating of their competency levels. In addition, the IPC scores did not differ significantly between males and females (t = .26, p>.62). Although more testing is needed, the study's 76-item IPC appeared to contain one factor, therefore scale items were reduced to 41 based on estimates of item-scale internal consistency. The new 41-item IPC provides greater clarity regarding the learning gained by MSW students and how they perceive their ability to practice effectively.

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