An Examination of Service Learning and Self-Efficacy for Masters Students Engaging in Substance Use Education

  •  Stephanie Rose    
  •  Johanna Thomas    
  •  Samantha Christian    
  •  Duston Morris    
  •  Anita Sego    


This study explored perceptions of social work students before and after a service-learning project in which they worked with clients with substance abuse issues. Two areas were explored: (1) social work students’ perceptions of treating clients with substance use before and after the course “Addiction Treatment in Social Work” and the required service-learning project component; and (2) social work students’ self-efficacy before and after the addiction, service-learning project. Data-collection occurred through a pre-post self-efficacy survey, a questionnaire about interests in working with clients struggling with addiction and a course assignment. Students also completed a demographic questionnaire. Data were analyzed using Dedoose for the qualitative data component and SPSS for the quantitative components. Overall, findings from the quantitative and qualitative analyses were very positive. Although there were no significant increases in self-efficacy from pre-post-test the average scores did increase nearly 3.5 points. Students also indicated they were more willing to work with both individuals and groups/families dealing with addiction issues. Moreover, students reported an increase in insight, skills, community engagement and meaningful experiences even though they reported having feelings of doubt initially. Based on the findings, specialized training and service-learning opportunities in addictions for social work students is beneficial. Training should target appropriate skills, the distinct needs of people who are suffering from substance abuse disorders, and self-reflection regarding perceptions of substance use disorders.

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