Teaching & Learning in Social Work

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Using Rubrics to provide Strength-based Feedback for Social Work Assignments

Posted By Laurel Hitchcock on Feb 4, 2019 | 0 comments

social work case study rubric

Editor’s Note: I am excited to welcome back Kristen Samuels, MSW, MS, MEd , the Field Director for University of Phoenix’s Department of Social Work , for this month’s guest educator blog post. Back in December 2018, I sent a tweet asking for advice on how to improve my grading practices, and turned the responses from colleagues into a blog post . Kristen was one of those colleagues and I asked her to turn her own tweets about strength-based feedback and rubrics into this blog post. Kristen can be reached at [email protected], or @KristenMSamuels on Twitter.

I recently returned to the classroom as a student in an EdD program. Although I certainly struggle with the workload, committing to life-long learning and taking the role of the student has made me a better instructor. As I am reminded of the anxiety that comes with unclear expectations or inconsistent grading practices, I become more aware of my own approaches for delivering feedback in my online classrooms. In discussions with my peers about the rigor and intensity of the doctoral writing process, we reflected on our individual fears in presenting written assignments to any of our former professors. Writing is an incredibly complex and emotive process. Students are asked to read, comprehend, apply, analyze, summarize, etc., and then present content in an integrated, accurate, and convincing way. It would be easy to miss a step and lose confidence in our position, and in that way, students are vulnerable when turning in written assignments. After putting forward long thought-out interpretations and opinions of the material, it is difficult to not view feedback as a personal attack on our intelligence. We wind ourselves up in self-doubt, and add undue stress when we throw in the impossible task of deciphering tone from an instructor’s feedback.

Strength-based feedback for Social Work Assignments

For this reason, and particularly for us as Social Work educators, we owe it to our students to present feedback with care. This can be as simple as avoiding capitalizing words (the online equivalent of shouting), and intentionally leading/ending feedback with what the student has done well in the assignment. Research on feedback tells us that affirmative comments acknowledges students’ efforts and encourages learning, instead of emphasizing grades (Stipek & Chiatovich, 2017). It is also an excellent way to model strengths-based approaches with our students!

This does not ignore our responsibility to offer corrective feedback, but in a way that promotes growth and ensures comprehension of the course objectives. Providing specific comments in areas where points were lost, can signal need for additional review and points of focus for future submissions. As supported by Gallien & Oomen-Early (2008), our responses should be an even mix of acknowledging their strengths and noted growth, as well as include strategies to promote reflection and deeper learning.  The major dilemma for any social work educator is how to give thorough and timely individualized feedback, which is critical to student success and helps maintain academic standards long term, while managing the process of grading including the amount of time and energy needed.    

For example, written assignments take a significant amount of time to thoroughly read and provide substantive feedback on. If the course objectives are best met through this means of assessment, your time will be well spent if you develop a rubric at the same time as the assignment. The audience of this blog is likely familiar with the term “rubric”, but you may want to consider the phrase “grading guide” with your students.

I prefer to provide written feedback to my student’s as opposed to verbal feedback by recording my reactions. My reason for this is accessibility. Although we assume that our students are connected with the services and tools that they need to be successful for our online courses, not all students self-report their needs, and I do not want them to miss out on this critical piece of learning. If the tool is embedded in your learning management system (LMS) such as Voicethread, it likely meets your institutions accessibility standards and is a fine alternative.

How I develop a rubric

As an instructor, I begin by developing an assignment in alignment with the course objective(s), and simultaneously develop the rubric. The objective(s) to be assessed in your assignment should be directly reflected in the assignment instructions, and then mirrored in the rubric. For example, if your objective is to “Describe typical stages of grief and explain how cultural, religious, and spiritual practices affect the bereavement process”, the assignment should expand on your expectations, and a line of your rubric should reflect measurement of those goals.  For example:

Course objective to be assessed in this assignment: “Describe typical stages of grief and explain how cultural, religious, and spiritual practices affect the bereavement process.”

(Relevant portion of) Assignment instructions: Briefly describe each of the stages of grief from the text. Identify at least 3 examples of cultural, religious, or spiritual practices from the case study provided. How might this affect the clients’  bereavement process?

(Relevant portion of) Assignment Rubric:

social work case study rubric

Final comments: “Well done, Alex! You’ve earned XX out of XX points for this assignment. You’ve done well identifying and explaining the 5 stages of grief, and 3 examples of cultural practices that influenced the client’s bereavement. Your interpretation of the client’s spiritual ritual was fascinating, I hope you’ll share this perspective with the class in our discussion forum! I would add to your “bargaining” stage that this serves an important role for the client, where they temporarily escape from their pain and take time to process their new reality. In this stage the clients’ emotional needs are high, so it is important to review their support system of family and friends.  I am seeing marked improvement in your writing style and APA, thank you for your hard work! This attention to detail will pay off not only in the course, but long term in your documentation skills in practice. Remember that a “Writing Guide” is posted in our course homepage with additional support including samples, resources, and best practices in formal writing. Overall, well done this week, Alex, I’m looking forward to seeing your work in Week 3. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you before then!”

This final comments script can be easily altered for each student, keeping the basic framework and editing individual details. I prefer to use the indicators above – “Does not meet expectations”, “Approaches Expectations”, and “Meets Expectations” in my rubrics. I do not believe that “exceeding expectations” is fair to grade upon, but instead belongs in specific comments of praise and acknowledgement in the final feedback section. Generally, I develop my rubrics as follows:

  • 70% content – listing each specific requirement to be addressed, as outlined in course/assignment objectives. Examples may include: Relevant content or analysis is accurately described and supported by research. Use of theory, examples, or other language are correct, comprehensive, and persuasive.
  • 15% Organization and Structure – Effectively organized: introduction to provide background and preview points, body with logical transitions and appropriate tone, and conclusion reviewing major ideas.
  • 15% Mechanics and APA – rules of grammar, spelling, usage, etc. are followed, intellectual property is appropriately cited consistent with APA formatting guidelines.

Designing detailed rubrics up-front saves time during the grading process. Making these available to the students along with assignment instructions clearly informs them of your expectations, provides them with an outline to organize their research, and helps minimize concerns of subjectivity in your grading process. It also speeds up the process for us as faculty, as you have already articulated what quality looks like in the final product, you simply need to provide detail on how they hit or fell short of these targets.

How do you use rubrics with your assignments?  Please post your comments and ideas below.

References:

Gallien, T., & Oomen-Early, J. (2008). Personalized versus collective instructor feedback in the online courseroom: Does type of feedback affect student satisfaction, academic performance and perceived connectedness with the instructor? International Journal on ELearning, 7 (3), 463-476. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/docview/210354848? accountid =134061

Stipek, D., & Chiatovich, T. (2017). The effect of instructional quality on low- and high-performing students . Psychology in the Schools, 54 (8), 773–791. https://doi-org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.1002/pits.22034

How to cite this blog post: Samuels, K. (2019, February 4). Using Rubrics to provide Strength-based Feedback for Social Work Assignments [Blog Post]. Retrieved from: https://laureliversonhitchcock.org/2019/02/04/using-rubrics-to-provide-strength-based-feedback-for-social-work-assignments/

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Author: Laurel Hitchcock

Dr. Hitchcock served as the editor for this blog post. The author is the Guest Blogger (Social Work Educator or Student).

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Rubric Best Practices, Examples, and Templates

A rubric is a scoring tool that identifies the different criteria relevant to an assignment, assessment, or learning outcome and states the possible levels of achievement in a specific, clear, and objective way. Use rubrics to assess project-based student work including essays, group projects, creative endeavors, and oral presentations.

Rubrics can help instructors communicate expectations to students and assess student work fairly, consistently and efficiently. Rubrics can provide students with informative feedback on their strengths and weaknesses so that they can reflect on their performance and work on areas that need improvement.

How to Get Started

Best practices, moodle how-to guides.

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Step 1: Analyze the assignment

The first step in the rubric creation process is to analyze the assignment or assessment for which you are creating a rubric. To do this, consider the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the assignment and your feedback? What do you want students to demonstrate through the completion of this assignment (i.e. what are the learning objectives measured by it)? Is it a summative assessment, or will students use the feedback to create an improved product?
  • Does the assignment break down into different or smaller tasks? Are these tasks equally important as the main assignment?
  • What would an “excellent” assignment look like? An “acceptable” assignment? One that still needs major work?
  • How detailed do you want the feedback you give students to be? Do you want/need to give them a grade?

Step 2: Decide what kind of rubric you will use

Types of rubrics: holistic, analytic/descriptive, single-point

Holistic Rubric. A holistic rubric includes all the criteria (such as clarity, organization, mechanics, etc.) to be considered together and included in a single evaluation. With a holistic rubric, the rater or grader assigns a single score based on an overall judgment of the student’s work, using descriptions of each performance level to assign the score.

Advantages of holistic rubrics:

  • Can p lace an emphasis on what learners can demonstrate rather than what they cannot
  • Save grader time by minimizing the number of evaluations to be made for each student
  • Can be used consistently across raters, provided they have all been trained

Disadvantages of holistic rubrics:

  • Provide less specific feedback than analytic/descriptive rubrics
  • Can be difficult to choose a score when a student’s work is at varying levels across the criteria
  • Any weighting of c riteria cannot be indicated in the rubric

Analytic/Descriptive Rubric . An analytic or descriptive rubric often takes the form of a table with the criteria listed in the left column and with levels of performance listed across the top row. Each cell contains a description of what the specified criterion looks like at a given level of performance. Each of the criteria is scored individually.

Advantages of analytic rubrics:

  • Provide detailed feedback on areas of strength or weakness
  • Each criterion can be weighted to reflect its relative importance

Disadvantages of analytic rubrics:

  • More time-consuming to create and use than a holistic rubric
  • May not be used consistently across raters unless the cells are well defined
  • May result in giving less personalized feedback

Single-Point Rubric . A single-point rubric is breaks down the components of an assignment into different criteria, but instead of describing different levels of performance, only the “proficient” level is described. Feedback space is provided for instructors to give individualized comments to help students improve and/or show where they excelled beyond the proficiency descriptors.

Advantages of single-point rubrics:

  • Easier to create than an analytic/descriptive rubric
  • Perhaps more likely that students will read the descriptors
  • Areas of concern and excellence are open-ended
  • May removes a focus on the grade/points
  • May increase student creativity in project-based assignments

Disadvantage of analytic rubrics: Requires more work for instructors writing feedback

Step 3 (Optional): Look for templates and examples.

You might Google, “Rubric for persuasive essay at the college level” and see if there are any publicly available examples to start from. Ask your colleagues if they have used a rubric for a similar assignment. Some examples are also available at the end of this article. These rubrics can be a great starting point for you, but consider steps 3, 4, and 5 below to ensure that the rubric matches your assignment description, learning objectives and expectations.

Step 4: Define the assignment criteria

Make a list of the knowledge and skills are you measuring with the assignment/assessment Refer to your stated learning objectives, the assignment instructions, past examples of student work, etc. for help.

  Helpful strategies for defining grading criteria:

  • Collaborate with co-instructors, teaching assistants, and other colleagues
  • Brainstorm and discuss with students
  • Can they be observed and measured?
  • Are they important and essential?
  • Are they distinct from other criteria?
  • Are they phrased in precise, unambiguous language?
  • Revise the criteria as needed
  • Consider whether some are more important than others, and how you will weight them.

Step 5: Design the rating scale

Most ratings scales include between 3 and 5 levels. Consider the following questions when designing your rating scale:

  • Given what students are able to demonstrate in this assignment/assessment, what are the possible levels of achievement?
  • How many levels would you like to include (more levels means more detailed descriptions)
  • Will you use numbers and/or descriptive labels for each level of performance? (for example 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and/or Exceeds expectations, Accomplished, Proficient, Developing, Beginning, etc.)
  • Don’t use too many columns, and recognize that some criteria can have more columns that others . The rubric needs to be comprehensible and organized. Pick the right amount of columns so that the criteria flow logically and naturally across levels.

Step 6: Write descriptions for each level of the rating scale

Artificial Intelligence tools like Chat GPT have proven to be useful tools for creating a rubric. You will want to engineer your prompt that you provide the AI assistant to ensure you get what you want. For example, you might provide the assignment description, the criteria you feel are important, and the number of levels of performance you want in your prompt. Use the results as a starting point, and adjust the descriptions as needed.

Building a rubric from scratch

For a single-point rubric , describe what would be considered “proficient,” i.e. B-level work, and provide that description. You might also include suggestions for students outside of the actual rubric about how they might surpass proficient-level work.

For analytic and holistic rubrics , c reate statements of expected performance at each level of the rubric.

  • Consider what descriptor is appropriate for each criteria, e.g., presence vs absence, complete vs incomplete, many vs none, major vs minor, consistent vs inconsistent, always vs never. If you have an indicator described in one level, it will need to be described in each level.
  • You might start with the top/exemplary level. What does it look like when a student has achieved excellence for each/every criterion? Then, look at the “bottom” level. What does it look like when a student has not achieved the learning goals in any way? Then, complete the in-between levels.
  • For an analytic rubric , do this for each particular criterion of the rubric so that every cell in the table is filled. These descriptions help students understand your expectations and their performance in regard to those expectations.

Well-written descriptions:

  • Describe observable and measurable behavior
  • Use parallel language across the scale
  • Indicate the degree to which the standards are met

Step 7: Create your rubric

Create your rubric in a table or spreadsheet in Word, Google Docs, Sheets, etc., and then transfer it by typing it into Moodle. You can also use online tools to create the rubric, but you will still have to type the criteria, indicators, levels, etc., into Moodle. Rubric creators: Rubistar , iRubric

Step 8: Pilot-test your rubric

Prior to implementing your rubric on a live course, obtain feedback from:

  • Teacher assistants

Try out your new rubric on a sample of student work. After you pilot-test your rubric, analyze the results to consider its effectiveness and revise accordingly.

  • Limit the rubric to a single page for reading and grading ease
  • Use parallel language . Use similar language and syntax/wording from column to column. Make sure that the rubric can be easily read from left to right or vice versa.
  • Use student-friendly language . Make sure the language is learning-level appropriate. If you use academic language or concepts, you will need to teach those concepts.
  • Share and discuss the rubric with your students . Students should understand that the rubric is there to help them learn, reflect, and self-assess. If students use a rubric, they will understand the expectations and their relevance to learning.
  • Consider scalability and reusability of rubrics. Create rubric templates that you can alter as needed for multiple assignments.
  • Maximize the descriptiveness of your language. Avoid words like “good” and “excellent.” For example, instead of saying, “uses excellent sources,” you might describe what makes a resource excellent so that students will know. You might also consider reducing the reliance on quantity, such as a number of allowable misspelled words. Focus instead, for example, on how distracting any spelling errors are.

Example of an analytic rubric for a final paper

Example of a holistic rubric for a final paper, single-point rubric, more examples:.

  • Single Point Rubric Template ( variation )
  • Analytic Rubric Template make a copy to edit
  • A Rubric for Rubrics
  • Bank of Online Discussion Rubrics in different formats
  • Mathematical Presentations Descriptive Rubric
  • Math Proof Assessment Rubric
  • Kansas State Sample Rubrics
  • Design Single Point Rubric

Technology Tools: Rubrics in Moodle

  • Moodle Docs: Rubrics
  • Moodle Docs: Grading Guide (use for single-point rubrics)

Tools with rubrics (other than Moodle)

  • Google Assignments
  • Turnitin Assignments: Rubric or Grading Form

Other resources

  • DePaul University (n.d.). Rubrics .
  • Gonzalez, J. (2014). Know your terms: Holistic, Analytic, and Single-Point Rubrics . Cult of Pedagogy.
  • Goodrich, H. (1996). Understanding rubrics . Teaching for Authentic Student Performance, 54 (4), 14-17. Retrieved from   
  • Miller, A. (2012). Tame the beast: tips for designing and using rubrics.
  • Ragupathi, K., Lee, A. (2020). Beyond Fairness and Consistency in Grading: The Role of Rubrics in Higher Education. In: Sanger, C., Gleason, N. (eds) Diversity and Inclusion in Global Higher Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
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  • Types of Structured Group Activities
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  • Writing a Reflective Paper
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  • Acknowledgments

Definition and Introduction

Case analysis is a problem-based teaching and learning method that involves critically analyzing complex scenarios within an organizational setting for the purpose of placing the student in a “real world” situation and applying reflection and critical thinking skills to contemplate appropriate solutions, decisions, or recommended courses of action. It is considered a more effective teaching technique than in-class role playing or simulation activities. The analytical process is often guided by questions provided by the instructor that ask students to contemplate relationships between the facts and critical incidents described in the case.

Cases generally include both descriptive and statistical elements and rely on students applying abductive reasoning to develop and argue for preferred or best outcomes [i.e., case scenarios rarely have a single correct or perfect answer based on the evidence provided]. Rather than emphasizing theories or concepts, case analysis assignments emphasize building a bridge of relevancy between abstract thinking and practical application and, by so doing, teaches the value of both within a specific area of professional practice.

Given this, the purpose of a case analysis paper is to present a structured and logically organized format for analyzing the case situation. It can be assigned to students individually or as a small group assignment and it may include an in-class presentation component. Case analysis is predominately taught in economics and business-related courses, but it is also a method of teaching and learning found in other applied social sciences disciplines, such as, social work, public relations, education, journalism, and public administration.

Ellet, William. The Case Study Handbook: A Student's Guide . Revised Edition. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2018; Christoph Rasche and Achim Seisreiner. Guidelines for Business Case Analysis . University of Potsdam; Writing a Case Analysis . Writing Center, Baruch College; Volpe, Guglielmo. "Case Teaching in Economics: History, Practice and Evidence." Cogent Economics and Finance 3 (December 2015). doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/23322039.2015.1120977.

How to Approach Writing a Case Analysis Paper

The organization and structure of a case analysis paper can vary depending on the organizational setting, the situation, and how your professor wants you to approach the assignment. Nevertheless, preparing to write a case analysis paper involves several important steps. As Hawes notes, a case analysis assignment “...is useful in developing the ability to get to the heart of a problem, analyze it thoroughly, and to indicate the appropriate solution as well as how it should be implemented” [p.48]. This statement encapsulates how you should approach preparing to write a case analysis paper.

Before you begin to write your paper, consider the following analytical procedures:

  • Review the case to get an overview of the situation . A case can be only a few pages in length, however, it is most often very lengthy and contains a significant amount of detailed background information and statistics, with multilayered descriptions of the scenario, the roles and behaviors of various stakeholder groups, and situational events. Therefore, a quick reading of the case will help you gain an overall sense of the situation and illuminate the types of issues and problems that you will need to address in your paper. If your professor has provided questions intended to help frame your analysis, use them to guide your initial reading of the case.
  • Read the case thoroughly . After gaining a general overview of the case, carefully read the content again with the purpose of understanding key circumstances, events, and behaviors among stakeholder groups. Look for information or data that appears contradictory, extraneous, or misleading. At this point, you should be taking notes as you read because this will help you develop a general outline of your paper. The aim is to obtain a complete understanding of the situation so that you can begin contemplating tentative answers to any questions your professor has provided or, if they have not provided, developing answers to your own questions about the case scenario and its connection to the course readings,lectures, and class discussions.
  • Determine key stakeholder groups, issues, and events and the relationships they all have to each other . As you analyze the content, pay particular attention to identifying individuals, groups, or organizations described in the case and identify evidence of any problems or issues of concern that impact the situation in a negative way. Other things to look for include identifying any assumptions being made by or about each stakeholder, potential biased explanations or actions, explicit demands or ultimatums , and the underlying concerns that motivate these behaviors among stakeholders. The goal at this stage is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the situational and behavioral dynamics of the case and the explicit and implicit consequences of each of these actions.
  • Identify the core problems . The next step in most case analysis assignments is to discern what the core [i.e., most damaging, detrimental, injurious] problems are within the organizational setting and to determine their implications. The purpose at this stage of preparing to write your analysis paper is to distinguish between the symptoms of core problems and the core problems themselves and to decide which of these must be addressed immediately and which problems do not appear critical but may escalate over time. Identify evidence from the case to support your decisions by determining what information or data is essential to addressing the core problems and what information is not relevant or is misleading.
  • Explore alternative solutions . As noted, case analysis scenarios rarely have only one correct answer. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that the process of analyzing the case and diagnosing core problems, while based on evidence, is a subjective process open to various avenues of interpretation. This means that you must consider alternative solutions or courses of action by critically examining strengths and weaknesses, risk factors, and the differences between short and long-term solutions. For each possible solution or course of action, consider the consequences they may have related to their implementation and how these recommendations might lead to new problems. Also, consider thinking about your recommended solutions or courses of action in relation to issues of fairness, equity, and inclusion.
  • Decide on a final set of recommendations . The last stage in preparing to write a case analysis paper is to assert an opinion or viewpoint about the recommendations needed to help resolve the core problems as you see them and to make a persuasive argument for supporting this point of view. Prepare a clear rationale for your recommendations based on examining each element of your analysis. Anticipate possible obstacles that could derail their implementation. Consider any counter-arguments that could be made concerning the validity of your recommended actions. Finally, describe a set of criteria and measurable indicators that could be applied to evaluating the effectiveness of your implementation plan.

Use these steps as the framework for writing your paper. Remember that the more detailed you are in taking notes as you critically examine each element of the case, the more information you will have to draw from when you begin to write. This will save you time.

NOTE : If the process of preparing to write a case analysis paper is assigned as a student group project, consider having each member of the group analyze a specific element of the case, including drafting answers to the corresponding questions used by your professor to frame the analysis. This will help make the analytical process more efficient and ensure that the distribution of work is equitable. This can also facilitate who is responsible for drafting each part of the final case analysis paper and, if applicable, the in-class presentation.

Framework for Case Analysis . College of Management. University of Massachusetts; Hawes, Jon M. "Teaching is Not Telling: The Case Method as a Form of Interactive Learning." Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education 5 (Winter 2004): 47-54; Rasche, Christoph and Achim Seisreiner. Guidelines for Business Case Analysis . University of Potsdam; Writing a Case Study Analysis . University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center; Van Ness, Raymond K. A Guide to Case Analysis . School of Business. State University of New York, Albany; Writing a Case Analysis . Business School, University of New South Wales.

Structure and Writing Style

A case analysis paper should be detailed, concise, persuasive, clearly written, and professional in tone and in the use of language . As with other forms of college-level academic writing, declarative statements that convey information, provide a fact, or offer an explanation or any recommended courses of action should be based on evidence. If allowed by your professor, any external sources used to support your analysis, such as course readings, should be properly cited under a list of references. The organization and structure of case analysis papers can vary depending on your professor’s preferred format, but its structure generally follows the steps used for analyzing the case.

Introduction

The introduction should provide a succinct but thorough descriptive overview of the main facts, issues, and core problems of the case . The introduction should also include a brief summary of the most relevant details about the situation and organizational setting. This includes defining the theoretical framework or conceptual model on which any questions were used to frame your analysis.

Following the rules of most college-level research papers, the introduction should then inform the reader how the paper will be organized. This includes describing the major sections of the paper and the order in which they will be presented. Unless you are told to do so by your professor, you do not need to preview your final recommendations in the introduction. U nlike most college-level research papers , the introduction does not include a statement about the significance of your findings because a case analysis assignment does not involve contributing new knowledge about a research problem.

Background Analysis

Background analysis can vary depending on any guiding questions provided by your professor and the underlying concept or theory that the case is based upon. In general, however, this section of your paper should focus on:

  • Providing an overarching analysis of problems identified from the case scenario, including identifying events that stakeholders find challenging or troublesome,
  • Identifying assumptions made by each stakeholder and any apparent biases they may exhibit,
  • Describing any demands or claims made by or forced upon key stakeholders, and
  • Highlighting any issues of concern or complaints expressed by stakeholders in response to those demands or claims.

These aspects of the case are often in the form of behavioral responses expressed by individuals or groups within the organizational setting. However, note that problems in a case situation can also be reflected in data [or the lack thereof] and in the decision-making, operational, cultural, or institutional structure of the organization. Additionally, demands or claims can be either internal and external to the organization [e.g., a case analysis involving a president considering arms sales to Saudi Arabia could include managing internal demands from White House advisors as well as demands from members of Congress].

Throughout this section, present all relevant evidence from the case that supports your analysis. Do not simply claim there is a problem, an assumption, a demand, or a concern; tell the reader what part of the case informed how you identified these background elements.

Identification of Problems

In most case analysis assignments, there are problems, and then there are problems . Each problem can reflect a multitude of underlying symptoms that are detrimental to the interests of the organization. The purpose of identifying problems is to teach students how to differentiate between problems that vary in severity, impact, and relative importance. Given this, problems can be described in three general forms: those that must be addressed immediately, those that should be addressed but the impact is not severe, and those that do not require immediate attention and can be set aside for the time being.

All of the problems you identify from the case should be identified in this section of your paper, with a description based on evidence explaining the problem variances. If the assignment asks you to conduct research to further support your assessment of the problems, include this in your explanation. Remember to cite those sources in a list of references. Use specific evidence from the case and apply appropriate concepts, theories, and models discussed in class or in relevant course readings to highlight and explain the key problems [or problem] that you believe must be solved immediately and describe the underlying symptoms and why they are so critical.

Alternative Solutions

This section is where you provide specific, realistic, and evidence-based solutions to the problems you have identified and make recommendations about how to alleviate the underlying symptomatic conditions impacting the organizational setting. For each solution, you must explain why it was chosen and provide clear evidence to support your reasoning. This can include, for example, course readings and class discussions as well as research resources, such as, books, journal articles, research reports, or government documents. In some cases, your professor may encourage you to include personal, anecdotal experiences as evidence to support why you chose a particular solution or set of solutions. Using anecdotal evidence helps promote reflective thinking about the process of determining what qualifies as a core problem and relevant solution .

Throughout this part of the paper, keep in mind the entire array of problems that must be addressed and describe in detail the solutions that might be implemented to resolve these problems.

Recommended Courses of Action

In some case analysis assignments, your professor may ask you to combine the alternative solutions section with your recommended courses of action. However, it is important to know the difference between the two. A solution refers to the answer to a problem. A course of action refers to a procedure or deliberate sequence of activities adopted to proactively confront a situation, often in the context of accomplishing a goal. In this context, proposed courses of action are based on your analysis of alternative solutions. Your description and justification for pursuing each course of action should represent the overall plan for implementing your recommendations.

For each course of action, you need to explain the rationale for your recommendation in a way that confronts challenges, explains risks, and anticipates any counter-arguments from stakeholders. Do this by considering the strengths and weaknesses of each course of action framed in relation to how the action is expected to resolve the core problems presented, the possible ways the action may affect remaining problems, and how the recommended action will be perceived by each stakeholder.

In addition, you should describe the criteria needed to measure how well the implementation of these actions is working and explain which individuals or groups are responsible for ensuring your recommendations are successful. In addition, always consider the law of unintended consequences. Outline difficulties that may arise in implementing each course of action and describe how implementing the proposed courses of action [either individually or collectively] may lead to new problems [both large and small].

Throughout this section, you must consider the costs and benefits of recommending your courses of action in relation to uncertainties or missing information and the negative consequences of success.

The conclusion should be brief and introspective. Unlike a research paper, the conclusion in a case analysis paper does not include a summary of key findings and their significance, a statement about how the study contributed to existing knowledge, or indicate opportunities for future research.

Begin by synthesizing the core problems presented in the case and the relevance of your recommended solutions. This can include an explanation of what you have learned about the case in the context of your answers to the questions provided by your professor. The conclusion is also where you link what you learned from analyzing the case with the course readings or class discussions. This can further demonstrate your understanding of the relationships between the practical case situation and the theoretical and abstract content of assigned readings and other course content.

Problems to Avoid

The literature on case analysis assignments often includes examples of difficulties students have with applying methods of critical analysis and effectively reporting the results of their assessment of the situation. A common reason cited by scholars is that the application of this type of teaching and learning method is limited to applied fields of social and behavioral sciences and, as a result, writing a case analysis paper can be unfamiliar to most students entering college.

After you have drafted your paper, proofread the narrative flow and revise any of these common errors:

  • Unnecessary detail in the background section . The background section should highlight the essential elements of the case based on your analysis. Focus on summarizing the facts and highlighting the key factors that become relevant in the other sections of the paper by eliminating any unnecessary information.
  • Analysis relies too much on opinion . Your analysis is interpretive, but the narrative must be connected clearly to evidence from the case and any models and theories discussed in class or in course readings. Any positions or arguments you make should be supported by evidence.
  • Analysis does not focus on the most important elements of the case . Your paper should provide a thorough overview of the case. However, the analysis should focus on providing evidence about what you identify are the key events, stakeholders, issues, and problems. Emphasize what you identify as the most critical aspects of the case to be developed throughout your analysis. Be thorough but succinct.
  • Writing is too descriptive . A paper with too much descriptive information detracts from your analysis of the complexities of the case situation. Questions about what happened, where, when, and by whom should only be included as essential information leading to your examination of questions related to why, how, and for what purpose.
  • Inadequate definition of a core problem and associated symptoms . A common error found in case analysis papers is recommending a solution or course of action without adequately defining or demonstrating that you understand the problem. Make sure you have clearly described the problem and its impact and scope within the organizational setting. Ensure that you have adequately described the root causes w hen describing the symptoms of the problem.
  • Recommendations lack specificity . Identify any use of vague statements and indeterminate terminology, such as, “A particular experience” or “a large increase to the budget.” These statements cannot be measured and, as a result, there is no way to evaluate their successful implementation. Provide specific data and use direct language in describing recommended actions.
  • Unrealistic, exaggerated, or unattainable recommendations . Review your recommendations to ensure that they are based on the situational facts of the case. Your recommended solutions and courses of action must be based on realistic assumptions and fit within the constraints of the situation. Also note that the case scenario has already happened, therefore, any speculation or arguments about what could have occurred if the circumstances were different should be revised or eliminated.

Bee, Lian Song et al. "Business Students' Perspectives on Case Method Coaching for Problem-Based Learning: Impacts on Student Engagement and Learning Performance in Higher Education." Education & Training 64 (2022): 416-432; The Case Analysis . Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Grand Valley State University; Georgallis, Panikos and Kayleigh Bruijn. "Sustainability Teaching using Case-Based Debates." Journal of International Education in Business 15 (2022): 147-163; Hawes, Jon M. "Teaching is Not Telling: The Case Method as a Form of Interactive Learning." Journal for Advancement of Marketing Education 5 (Winter 2004): 47-54; Georgallis, Panikos, and Kayleigh Bruijn. "Sustainability Teaching Using Case-based Debates." Journal of International Education in Business 15 (2022): 147-163; .Dean,  Kathy Lund and Charles J. Fornaciari. "How to Create and Use Experiential Case-Based Exercises in a Management Classroom." Journal of Management Education 26 (October 2002): 586-603; Klebba, Joanne M. and Janet G. Hamilton. "Structured Case Analysis: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in a Marketing Case Course." Journal of Marketing Education 29 (August 2007): 132-137, 139; Klein, Norman. "The Case Discussion Method Revisited: Some Questions about Student Skills." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 30-32; Mukherjee, Arup. "Effective Use of In-Class Mini Case Analysis for Discovery Learning in an Undergraduate MIS Course." The Journal of Computer Information Systems 40 (Spring 2000): 15-23; Pessoa, Silviaet al. "Scaffolding the Case Analysis in an Organizational Behavior Course: Making Analytical Language Explicit." Journal of Management Education 46 (2022): 226-251: Ramsey, V. J. and L. D. Dodge. "Case Analysis: A Structured Approach." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 27-29; Schweitzer, Karen. "How to Write and Format a Business Case Study." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/how-to-write-and-format-a-business-case-study-466324 (accessed December 5, 2022); Reddy, C. D. "Teaching Research Methodology: Everything's a Case." Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods 18 (December 2020): 178-188; Volpe, Guglielmo. "Case Teaching in Economics: History, Practice and Evidence." Cogent Economics and Finance 3 (December 2015). doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/23322039.2015.1120977.

Writing Tip

Ca se Study and Case Analysis Are Not the Same!

Confusion often exists between what it means to write a paper that uses a case study research design and writing a paper that analyzes a case; they are two different types of approaches to learning in the social and behavioral sciences. Professors as well as educational researchers contribute to this confusion because they often use the term "case study" when describing the subject of analysis for a case analysis paper. But you are not studying a case for the purpose of generating a comprehensive, multi-faceted understanding of a research problem. R ather, you are critically analyzing a specific scenario to argue logically for recommended solutions and courses of action that lead to optimal outcomes applicable to professional practice.

To avoid any confusion, here are twelve characteristics that delineate the differences between writing a paper using the case study research method and writing a case analysis paper:

  • Case study is a method of in-depth research and rigorous inquiry ; case analysis is a reliable method of teaching and learning . A case study is a modality of research that investigates a phenomenon for the purpose of creating new knowledge, solving a problem, or testing a hypothesis using empirical evidence derived from the case being studied. Often, the results are used to generalize about a larger population or within a wider context. The writing adheres to the traditional standards of a scholarly research study. A case analysis is a pedagogical tool used to teach students how to reflect and think critically about a practical, real-life problem in an organizational setting.
  • The researcher is responsible for identifying the case to study; a case analysis is assigned by your professor . As the researcher, you choose the case study to investigate in support of obtaining new knowledge and understanding about the research problem. The case in a case analysis assignment is almost always provided, and sometimes written, by your professor and either given to every student in class to analyze individually or to a small group of students, or students select a case to analyze from a predetermined list.
  • A case study is indeterminate and boundless; a case analysis is predetermined and confined . A case study can be almost anything [see item 9 below] as long as it relates directly to examining the research problem. This relationship is the only limit to what a researcher can choose as the subject of their case study. The content of a case analysis is determined by your professor and its parameters are well-defined and limited to elucidating insights of practical value applied to practice.
  • Case study is fact-based and describes actual events or situations; case analysis can be entirely fictional or adapted from an actual situation . The entire content of a case study must be grounded in reality to be a valid subject of investigation in an empirical research study. A case analysis only needs to set the stage for critically examining a situation in practice and, therefore, can be entirely fictional or adapted, all or in-part, from an actual situation.
  • Research using a case study method must adhere to principles of intellectual honesty and academic integrity; a case analysis scenario can include misleading or false information . A case study paper must report research objectively and factually to ensure that any findings are understood to be logically correct and trustworthy. A case analysis scenario may include misleading or false information intended to deliberately distract from the central issues of the case. The purpose is to teach students how to sort through conflicting or useless information in order to come up with the preferred solution. Any use of misleading or false information in academic research is considered unethical.
  • Case study is linked to a research problem; case analysis is linked to a practical situation or scenario . In the social sciences, the subject of an investigation is most often framed as a problem that must be researched in order to generate new knowledge leading to a solution. Case analysis narratives are grounded in real life scenarios for the purpose of examining the realities of decision-making behavior and processes within organizational settings. A case analysis assignments include a problem or set of problems to be analyzed. However, the goal is centered around the act of identifying and evaluating courses of action leading to best possible outcomes.
  • The purpose of a case study is to create new knowledge through research; the purpose of a case analysis is to teach new understanding . Case studies are a choice of methodological design intended to create new knowledge about resolving a research problem. A case analysis is a mode of teaching and learning intended to create new understanding and an awareness of uncertainty applied to practice through acts of critical thinking and reflection.
  • A case study seeks to identify the best possible solution to a research problem; case analysis can have an indeterminate set of solutions or outcomes . Your role in studying a case is to discover the most logical, evidence-based ways to address a research problem. A case analysis assignment rarely has a single correct answer because one of the goals is to force students to confront the real life dynamics of uncertainly, ambiguity, and missing or conflicting information within professional practice. Under these conditions, a perfect outcome or solution almost never exists.
  • Case study is unbounded and relies on gathering external information; case analysis is a self-contained subject of analysis . The scope of a case study chosen as a method of research is bounded. However, the researcher is free to gather whatever information and data is necessary to investigate its relevance to understanding the research problem. For a case analysis assignment, your professor will often ask you to examine solutions or recommended courses of action based solely on facts and information from the case.
  • Case study can be a person, place, object, issue, event, condition, or phenomenon; a case analysis is a carefully constructed synopsis of events, situations, and behaviors . The research problem dictates the type of case being studied and, therefore, the design can encompass almost anything tangible as long as it fulfills the objective of generating new knowledge and understanding. A case analysis is in the form of a narrative containing descriptions of facts, situations, processes, rules, and behaviors within a particular setting and under a specific set of circumstances.
  • Case study can represent an open-ended subject of inquiry; a case analysis is a narrative about something that has happened in the past . A case study is not restricted by time and can encompass an event or issue with no temporal limit or end. For example, the current war in Ukraine can be used as a case study of how medical personnel help civilians during a large military conflict, even though circumstances around this event are still evolving. A case analysis can be used to elicit critical thinking about current or future situations in practice, but the case itself is a narrative about something finite and that has taken place in the past.
  • Multiple case studies can be used in a research study; case analysis involves examining a single scenario . Case study research can use two or more cases to examine a problem, often for the purpose of conducting a comparative investigation intended to discover hidden relationships, document emerging trends, or determine variations among different examples. A case analysis assignment typically describes a stand-alone, self-contained situation and any comparisons among cases are conducted during in-class discussions and/or student presentations.

The Case Analysis . Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors. Grand Valley State University; Mills, Albert J. , Gabrielle Durepos, and Eiden Wiebe, editors. Encyclopedia of Case Study Research . Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010; Ramsey, V. J. and L. D. Dodge. "Case Analysis: A Structured Approach." Exchange: The Organizational Behavior Teaching Journal 6 (November 1981): 27-29; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods . 6th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2017; Crowe, Sarah et al. “The Case Study Approach.” BMC Medical Research Methodology 11 (2011):  doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-11-100; Yin, Robert K. Case Study Research: Design and Methods . 4th edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing; 1994.

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Social Work Literature Review Guidelines

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Literature reviews are designed to do two things: 1) give your readers an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic or idea and 2) demonstrate how your research fits into the larger field of study, in this case, social work.

Unlike annotated bibliographies which are lists of references arranged alphabetically that include the bibliographic citation and a paragraph summary and critique for each source, literature reviews can be incorporated into a research paper or manuscript. You may quote or paraphrase from the sources, and all references to sources should include in-text parenthetical citations with a reference list at the end of the document. Sometimes, however, an instructor may require a separate literature review document and will have specific instructions for completing the assignment.

Below you will find general guidelines to consider when developing a literature review in the field of social work. Because social work is a social science field, you will most likely be required to use APA style. Please see our APA materials for information on creating parenthetical citations and reference lists.

1. Choose a variety of articles that relate to your subject, even if they do not directly answer your research question. You may find articles that loosely relate to the topic, rather than articles that you find using an exact keyword search. At first, you may need to cast a wide net when searching for sources.

For example: If your research question focuses on how people with chronic illnesses are treated in the workplace, you may be able to find some articles that address this specific question. You may also find literature regarding public perception of people with chronic illnesses or analyses of current laws affecting workplace discrimination.

2. Select the most relevant information from the articles as it pertains to your subject and your purpose. Remember, the purpose of the literature review is to demonstrate how your research question fits into a larger field of study.

3. Critically examine the articles. Look at methodology, statistics, results, theoretical framework, the author's purpose, etc. Include controversies when they appear in the articles.

For example: You should look for the strengths and weaknesses of how the author conducted the study. You can also decide whether or not the study is generalizable to other settings or whether the findings relate only to the specific setting of the study. Ask yourself why the author conducted the study and what he/she hoped to gain from the study. Look for inconsistencies in the results, as well.

4. Organize your information in the way that makes most sense. Some literature reviews may begin with a definition or general overview of the topic. Others may focus on another aspect of your topic. Look for themes in the literature or organize by types of study.

For example: Group case studies together, especially if all the case studies have related findings, research questions, or other similarities.

5. Make sure the information relates to your research question/thesis. You may need to explicitly show how the literature relates to the research question; don't assume that the connection is obvious.

6. Check to see that you have done more than simply summarize your sources. Your literature review should include a critical assessment of those sources. For more information, read the Experimental Psychology - Writing a Literature Review handout for questions to think about when reading sources.

7. Be sure to develop questions for further research. Again, you are not simply regurgitating information, but you are assessing and leading your reader to questions of your own, questions and ideas that haven't been explored yet or haven't been addressed in detail by the literature in the field.

Social Work Toolbox: 37 Questions, Assessments, & Resources

Social Worker Toolbox

This may be because of its unlikely position, balanced between “the individual and society, the powerful and the excluded” (Davies, 2013, p. 3).

Social work is a unique profession because of its breadth and depth of engagement and the many governmental and private organizations with which it engages.

Not only does it help individuals and groups solve problems in psychosocial functioning, but it also attempts to support them in their life-enhancing goals and ultimately create a just society (Suppes & Wells, 2017).

This article provides a toolbox for social workers, with a selection of assessments and resources to support them in their role and career.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free . These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains:

6 best resources for social workers, top 17 questions to ask your clients, 2 assessments for your sessions, social work & domestic violence: 5 helpful resources, our 3 favorite podcasts on the topic, resources from positivepsychology.com, a take-home message.

Demanding professions require dedicated and supportive resources that transform social work theory into practice. The following worksheets and tools target some of the most challenging and essential areas of social work (Rogers, Whitaker, Edmondson, & Peach, 2020; Davies, 2013):

Emotional intelligence

“Understanding emotion arises from the combined consciousness of how we perceive emotions and use our intellect to make sense of them” (Rogers et al., 2020, p. 47).

For social workers, emotional intelligence is invaluable. They must develop and maintain awareness of both their own and their client’s feelings and use the insights to select appropriate interventions and communication strategies without becoming overwhelmed.

The Reflecting on Emotions in Social Work worksheet encourages social workers to stop and consider their feelings following an initial client visit.

In the worksheet, the social worker is guided to find some quiet time and space to reflect on:

  • How do I feel about my initial visit?
  • What are my thoughts regarding the purpose of the visit?
  • How do I think I can proceed with developing a relationship with the client?
  • How do I think the client feels about my visit?

Being self-aware is a crucial aspect of social work and will inform the ongoing relationship with the client.

Fostering empathy

Mirror neurons fire when we watch others performing an action or experiencing an emotion. They play a significant role in learning new skills and developing empathy for others’ experiences (Thomson, 2010).

Social workers must become more aware of service users’ experiences, as they can influence and affect the interaction with them.

Use the Fostering Empathy Reflectively worksheet to improve the understanding of your own and others’ emotions and increase the degree of empathy.

Observing others can make social workers more aware of human behavior and the emotions and thoughts underneath to increase their capacity for empathy.

Reflective cycle

Reflecting on situations encountered on the job can help social workers fully consider their own and their clients’ thoughts and feelings before drawing conclusions. Indeed, “successful reflection emphasizes the centrality of self-awareness and the capacity for analysis” (Rogers et al., 2020, p. 64).

Use the Reflective Cycle for Social Work to reflect on events, incidents, and behaviors in a structured and systematic way (modified from Gibbs, 1988).

Challenging social interactions

Good communication skills and confidence in social interactions are essential for social work. There will be times when you need assertiveness to challenge others to ensure the client’s needs are met (Rogers et al., 2020).

However, like all skills, social skills can be learned and maintained through education and practice.

The Preparing for Difficult Social Interactions worksheet considers how a situation or event may unfold through focusing on the essential issues.

Practice and role-play can help social workers prepare for a more successful social interaction and gain confidence in their coping abilities.

Motivational Interviewing in Social Work

“Change can become difficult for service users when they are ambivalent about the extent to which the change will be beneficial” (Davies, 2013, p. 451).

One method used by social workers to explore their clients’ intrinsic values and ambivalence is through motivational interviewing (MI). MI has four basic principles (modified from Davies, 2013):

  • Expressing empathy Displaying a clear and genuine interest in the client’s needs, feelings, and perspective.
  • Developing discrepancy Watching and listening for discrepancies between a client’s present behavior and values and future goals.
  • Rolling with resistance Avoiding getting into arguments or pushing for change.
  • Supporting self-efficacy Believing in the client’s capacity to change.

The Motivational Interviewing in Social Work worksheet uses the five stages of change to consider the client’s readiness for change and as input for selecting an appropriate intervention (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1986; Davies, 2013).

The client should be encouraged to create and implement a plan, including goals and details of the specific tasks required.

Respectful practices

Rogers et al. (2020) identified several fundamental values that social workers should be aware of and practice with their service users, families, and other organizations with which they engage. These include:

  • Individuality
  • Honesty and integrity

The Respectful Practices in Social Work worksheet encourages reflection on whether a social worker remains in touch with their values and the principles expected in their work.

Social workers should frequently think of recent examples of interactions with clients, families, and other organizations, and ask themselves (modified from Rogers et al., 2020):

  • Were you polite, courteous, warm, and approachable?
  • How well did you accept people with different beliefs and values from your own?
  • Did you attempt to understand the person and their history?
  • Were you professional, open, honest, and trustworthy?
  • Did you treat each person equally, providing fair access to your time and resources?

A regular check-in to ensure high standards are being maintained and values remain clear will ensure the continued professionalism expected from a social worker.

Social work questions to ask

The following questions provide practical examples; practitioners should tailor them according to timing and context and remain sensitive to the needs of all involved (Rogers et al., 2020; Suppes & Wells, 2017; Davies, 2013).

Open questions

Open questions encourage the respondent to reflect and respond with their feelings, thoughts, and personal experiences. For example:

  • What is your view of what happened?
  • What has it been like living with this issue?
  • How could we work together to find a good solution?
  • What are your greatest fears?

Closed questions

Typically, closed questions are used to find out personal details such as name and address, but they can also provide focus and clarity to confirm information. Closed questions are especially important when dealing with someone with cognitive impairment or who finds it difficult to speak up, and can lead to follow-up, open questions.

For example:

  • How old are you?
  • Are you in trouble?
  • Are you scared?
  • Do you need help?

Hypothetical questions

Hypothetical questions can be helpful when we need the service user to consider a potentially different future, one in which their problems have been resolved. Such questions can build hope and set goals. For example:

  • Can you imagine how things would be if you did not live with the fear of violence?
  • Where would you like to be in a few years after you leave school?
  • Can you imagine what you would do if a similar situation were to happen again?

Strengths-based questions

“Focusing on strengths helps to move away from a preoccupation with risk and risk management” and builds strengths for a better future (Rogers et al., 2020, p. 243). Strengths-based questions in social work can be powerful tools for identifying the positives and adopting a solution-focused approach.

Examples include:

  • Survival – How did you cope in the past?
  • Support – Who helps you and gives you support and guidance?
  • Esteem – How do you feel when you receive compliments?
  • Perspective – What are your thoughts about the situation, issue, or problem?
  • Change – What would you like to change, and how can I help?
  • Meaning – What gives your life meaning?

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Interventions in social work are often described as having four stages: engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation (Suppes & Wells, 2017).

The assessment stage typically involves:

  • Collecting, organizing, and interpreting data
  • Assessing a client’s strengths and limitations
  • Developing and agreeing on goals and objectives for interventions
  • Selecting strategies appropriate to the intervention

Assessment is an ongoing process that typically focuses on risk. It begins with the referral and only ends when the intervention is complete or the case closed.

Assessment will need to be specific to the situation and the individuals involved, but it is likely to consider the following kinds of risks (Rogers et al., 2020; Bath and North East Somerset Council, 2017):

General risk assessment

Risk management does not remove risk, but rather reduces the likelihood or impact of problematic behavior. Risk assessments are performed to identify factors that may cause risky behavior or events (Davies, 2013).

Questions include:

  • What has been happening?
  • What is happening right now?
  • What could happen?
  • How likely is it that it will happen?
  • How serious could it be?

The wording and detail of each will depend on the situation, client, and environment, guided by the social worker’s training and experience.

Assessment of risk to children

A child’s safety is of the utmost importance. As part of the assessment process, a complete understanding of actual or potential harm is vital, including (modified from Bath and North East Somerset Council, 2017):

  • Has the child been harmed? Are they likely to be harmed?
  • Is the child at immediate risk of harm and is their safety threatened?
  • If harmed previously, to what extent or degree? Is there likely to be harm in the future?
  • Has there been a detrimental impact on the child’s wellbeing? Is there likely to be in the future?
  • Is there a parent or guardian able and motivated to protect the child from harm?

Social workers must use professional judgment to assess the level of risk and assure the child’s ongoing safety.

Assessment process – Oregon Department of Human Services

Social Work & Domestic Violence

The figures related to domestic violence are shocking. There are 1.3 million women and 835,000 men in the United States alone who are physically assaulted by a close partner each year (NASW, n.d.).

The NASW offers valuable resources to help social workers recognize the signs of existing domestic violence, prevent future violence, and help victims, including:

  • We can help end domestic violence – information on how the White Ribbon Day Campaign is raising awareness of domestic violence

SocialWorkersToolBox.com is another website with a vast range of free social work tools and resources. This UK-based website has a range of videos and educational toolkits, including:

  • Exploring Healthy Relationships: Resource Pack for 14–16-Year-Olds
  • Parents’ Guide: Youth Violence, Knife Crime, and Gangs
  • Family Meetings: Parents’ Guide and Templates
  • Preventing Bullying: A Guide for Parents

Many of the worksheets are helpful for sharing with parents, carers, and organizations.

Here are three insightful podcasts that discuss many of the issues facing social workers and social policymakers:

  • NASW Social Work Talks Podcast The NASW podcast explores topics social workers care about and hosts experts in both theory and practice. The podcast covers broad subjects including racism, child welfare, burnout, and facing grief.
  • The Social Work Podcast This fascinating podcast is another great place to hear from social workers and other experts in the field. The host and founder is Jonathan Singer, while Allan Barsky – a lecturer and researcher – is a frequent guest. Along with other guests, various issues affecting social workers and policymakers are discussed.
  • Social Work Stories Podcast hosts and social workers Lis Murphy, Mim Fox, and Justin Stech guide listeners through  all aspects of social work and social welfare.

social work case study rubric

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Social workers should be well versed in a variety of theories, tools, and skills. We have plenty of resources to support experienced social workers and those new to the profession.

One valuable point of focus for social workers involves building strengths and its role in solution-focused therapy . Why not download our free strengths exercise pack and try out the powerful exercises contained within? Here are some examples:

  • Strength Regulation By learning how to regulate their strengths, clients can be taught to use them more effectively.
  • You at Your Best Strengths finding is a powerful way for social workers to increase service users’ awareness of their strengths.

Other free helpful resources for social workers include:

  • Conflict Resolution Checklist Remove issues and factors causing or increasing conflict with this practical checklist .
  • Assertive Communication Practicing assertive communication can be equally valuable for social workers and service users.

More extensive versions of the following tools are available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit© , but they are described briefly below:

  • Self-Contract

Commitment and self-belief can increase the likelihood of successful future behavioral change.

The idea is to commit yourself to making a positive and effective change by signing a statement of what you will do and when. For example:

I will do [goal] by [date].

  • Cognitive Restructuring

While negative thoughts may not accurately reflect reality, they can increase the risk of unwelcome and harmful behavior.

This cognitive psychology tool helps people identify distorted and unhelpful thinking and find other ways of thinking:

  • Step one – Identify automatic unhelpful thoughts that are causing distress.
  • Step two – Evaluate the accuracy of these thoughts.
  • Step three – Substitute them with fair, rational, and balanced thoughts.

Individuals can then reflect on how this more balanced and realistic style of thinking makes them feel.

If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others enhance their wellbeing, this signature collection contains 17 validated positive psychology tools for practitioners. Use them to help others flourish and thrive.

Society and policymakers increasingly rely on social workers to help solve individual and group issues involving psychosocial functioning. But beyond helping people survive when society lets them down, social workers support them through positive change toward meaningful goals.

Social workers must be well equipped with social, goal-setting, and communication skills underpinned by positive psychology theory and developed through practice to be successful.

Reflection is crucial. Professionals must analyze their own and others’ emotions, thinking, and behavior while continuously monitoring risk, particularly when vulnerable populations are involved.

The nature of social work is to engage with populations often at the edge of society, where support is either not provided or under-represented.

This article includes tools, worksheets, and other resources that support social workers as they engage with and help their clients. Try them out and tailor them as needed to help deliver positive and lasting change and a more just society.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free .

  • Bath and North East Somerset Council. (2017, June). Risk assessment guidance . Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://bathnes.proceduresonline.com/chapters/p_risk_assess.html
  • Davies, M. (2013). The Blackwell companion to social work . Wiley Blackwell.
  • Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods . Oxford Further Education Unit.
  • National Association of Social Workers. (n.d.). Domestic violence media toolkit . Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.socialworkers.org/News/1000-Experts/Media-Toolkits/Domestic-Violence
  • Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1986). Toward a comprehensive model of change. In W. R. Miller & N. Heather (Eds.) Treating addictive behaviors: Processes of chang e. Springer.
  • Rogers, M., Whitaker, D., Edmondson, D., & Peach, D. (2020). Developing skills & knowledge for social work practice . SAGE.
  • Suppes, M. A., & Wells, M. A. (2017). The social work experience: An introduction to social work and social welfare . Pearson.
  • Thomson, H. (2010, April 14). Empathetic mirror neurons found in humans at last . New Scientist. Retrieved November 16, 2021, from https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20627565-600-empathetic-mirror-neurons-found-in-humans-at-last/

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What our readers think.

Jonathan Singer

Thanks so much for including the Social Work Podcast in this article. One correction: Allan Barsky is a frequent guest, but Jonathan Singer is the founder and host.

Caroline Rou

Hi there Jonathan,

Thank you so much for bringing this to our attention! We are delighted that you are reading the blog as we are fans of your podcast as well.

We will adjust this right away so we can give credit where credit is due 🙂

Thanks for all that you do!

Kind regards, -Caroline | Community Manager

Carla

Petra, it does not hurt to see this information again. Some social workers are new at their jobs and can always benefit from hearing this info repeated. If you want to hear from social workers only, then encourage your peers and or colleagues to write this stuff from their perspective.

Petra van Vliet

This article is demeaning and patronsing! As social workers – we have done our (at least) 4 years at uni and this stuff is social work 101. As psychologists – I find you often think you know best and can “tell” other professionals how to do their jobs. So – if you want to write something to social workers – get a social worker to write it! Petra van Vliet – proud and loud social worker

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6.1: Rubrics for Exams and Group Projects in Ethics

  • Last updated
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  • Page ID 20524

  • William Frey and Jose a Cruz-Cruz
  • University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

Introduction

This module provides a range of assessment rubrics used in classes on engineering and computer ethics. Rubrics will help you understand the standards that will be used to assess your writing in essay exams and group projects. They also help your instructor stay focused on the same set of standards when assessing the work of the class. Each rubric describes what counts as exceptional writing, writing that meets expectations, and writing that falls short of expectations in a series of explicit ways. The midterm rubrics break this down for each question. The final project rubrics describe the major parts of the assignment and then break down each part according to exceptional, adequate, and less than adequate. These rubrics will help you to understand what is expected of you as you carry out the assignment, provide a useful study guide for the activity, and familiarize you with how your instructor has assessed your work.

Course Syllabi

Syllabus for Environments of the Organization: ADMI4016_F10.docx

Syllabus for Business, Society, and Government: ADMI6055_F10.docx

Syllabus for Business Ethics: Business Ethics Spring 2007.doc

Syllabus for Business Ethics, Spring 2008: Syllabus_S08_W97.doc

Business Ethics Syllabus Presentation - This presentation was given on the first day of class in Business Ethics, Fall 2007. It summarizes the course objectives, grading events, and also provides a PowerPoint slide of the College of Business Administration's Statement of Values: BE_Intro_F07.ppt

Rubrics Used in Connexions Modules Published by Author

Ethical theory rubric.

This first rubric assesses essays that seek to integrate ethical theory into problem-solving. It looks at a rights-based approach consistent with deontology, a consequentialist approach consistent with utilitarianism, and virtue ethics. The overall context is a question presenting a decision scenario followed by possible solutions. The point of the essay is to evaluate a solution in terms of a given ethical theory.

Ethical Theory Integration Rubric - This rubric breaks down the assessment of an essay designed to integrate the ethical theories of deontology, utilitarianism, and virtue into a decision-making scenario: EE_Midterm_S05_Rubric.doc

Decision-Making / Problem-Solving Rubric

This next rubric assesses essays that integrate ethical considerations into decision making by means of three tests, reversibility, harm/beneficence, and public identification. The tests can be used as guides in designing ethical solutions or they can be used to evaluate decision alternatives to the problem raised in an ethics case or scenario. Each theory partially encapsulates an ethical approach: reversibility encapsulates deontology, harm/beneficence utilitarianism, and public identification virtue ethics. The rubric provides students with pitfalls associated with using each test and also assesses their set up of the test, i.e., how well they build a context for analysis.

Integrating Ethics into Decision-Making through Ethics Tests - Attached is a rubric in MSWord that assesses essays that seek to integrate ethical considerations into decision-making by means of the ethics tests of reversibility, harm/beneficence, and public identification: CE_Rubric_S06.doc

Ethics Bowl Follow-Up Exercise Rubric

Student teams in Engineering Ethics at UPRM compete in two Ethics Bowls where they are required to make a decision or defend an ethical stance evoked by a case study. Following the Ethics Bowl, each group is responsible for preparing an in-depth case analysis on one of the two cases they debated in the competition. The following rubric identifies ten components of this assignment, assigns points to each, and provides feedback on what is less than adequate, adequate, and exceptional. This rubric has been used for several years to evaluate these group projects.

In-Depth Case Analysis Rubric - This rubric will be used to assess a final, group written, in-depth case analysis. It includes the three frameworks referenced in the supplemental link provided above: EE_FinalRubric_S06.doc

Rubric for Good Computing / Social Impact Statements Reports

This rubric provides assessment criteria for the Good Computing Report activity that is based on the Social Impact Statement Analysis described by Chuck Huff at www.computingcases.org. (See link) Students take a major computing system, construct the socio-technical system which forms its context, and look for potential problems that stem from value mismatches between the computing system and its surrounding socio-technical context. The rubric characterizes less than adequate, adequate, and exceptional student Good Computing Reports.

Good Computing Report Rubric - This figure provides the rubric used to assess Good Computing Reports in Computer Ethics classes: CE_FinalRubric_S06.doc

Computing Cases provides a description of a Social Impact Statement report that is closely related to the Good Computing Report. Value material can be accessed by looking at the components of a Socio-Technical System and how to construct a Socio-Technical System Analysis.

Business Ethics Midterm Rubric Spring 2008 - Clicking on this link will open the rubric for the business ethics midterm exam for spring 2008: Midterm Rubric Spring 2008.doc

Study Materials for Business Ethics

This section provides models for those who would find the Jeopardy game format useful for helping students learn concepts in business ethics and the environments of the organization. It incorporates material from modules in the Business Course and from Business Ethics and Society, a textbook written by Anne Lawrence and James Weber and published by McGraw-Hill. Thanks to elainefitzgerald.com for the Jeopardy template.

Jeopardy: Business Concepts and Frameworks: Jeopardy1Template.pptx Jeopardy2.pptx

Privacy, Property, Free Speech, Responsibility: Jeopardy_3.pptx

Jeopardy for EO Second Exam: Jeopardy4a.pptx

Jeopardy 5: Jeopardy5.pptx

Jeopardy 6: Jeopardy6.pptx

Jeopardy 7: Jeopardy7.pptx

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Undergraduate Case Analysis Rubric

This rubric can be used for guiding undergraduate case analysis for the course " Genomics, Ethics, and Society ."

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Award No. 2055332. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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