Date of Award

Spring 3-3-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

D.S.W. Social work


Social Work

First Advisor

Stephen W. Stoeffler

Second Advisor

Steve B. Lem

Third Advisor

Laura B. Granruth


To address the problem that social workers feel inadequately prepared to engage in the political system, the current study utilizes a content analysis approach to review political participation content in Human Behavior in the Social Environment (HBSE) textbooks. Thus, this study seeks to address the question: How do HBSE textbooks address political components of CSWE EPAS Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice? Initially, literature regarding social work political participation and political practice in social work curriculum as well as an overview of competency-based education is provided. Additionally, a review of the Civic Volunteerism Model, Systems Theory, and Bloom’s Taxonomy is explored. Through the Council on Social Work Education’s (CSWE) Competency 5, the Civic Volunteerism Model, Niemi et al. (1991) internal political efficacy scale, and Bloom’s Taxonomy, a coding rubric incorporating twelve political practice activities was developed. The coding rubric was used to review for frequency of political content, both implicitly and explicitly, as well as the integration of political content in textbook learning objectives. Utilizing the Faculty Center Network (FCN), a sample of six HBSE textbooks was developed. In total, 607 learning objectives were reviewed, of which 222 incorporated political components of Competency 5. The content analysis identified three key findings. Primarily, while political themes are addressed in HBSE textbooks, these themes are largely implicit and tend to ignore the role that politics play in individual development. Additionally, learning objectives do not adequately connect political practice to social work practice. Also, the textbooks did not include any learning objectives related to the electoral system, ignoring the role of electoral advocacy. The findings of the present study necessitate that future HBSE textbooks include more explicit connection to political participation in chapter learning objectives. Political content must also integrate throughout textbooks and should not just cluster in chapters and books addressing macro practices. Additionally, textbooks must clearly link social work practice with policy practice. Finally, textbooks must incorporate components of electoral advocacy. The current exploratory content analysis is only an initial step in understanding the role social work education plays in preparing political practitioners.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Social Work Commons



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