SSWR Doctoral Student Spotlight

The SSWR Doctoral Student Members Task Force is launching a new series featuring research conducted by doctoral students. The series is intended to bring awareness and attention to the research being done by social work doctoral students, as well as important issues in the field. One spotlight piece will be featured each week on the SSWR Doctoral Student Member Blog & Facebook Page during the spring 2019 semester. 


Teaching Advocacy to Second Year Masters of Social Work Students in Clinical Field Placements

Michael J. Rogers

Michael J. Rogers

Student Researcher: Michael J. "Mick" Rogers, MSW, LCSW, Smith College School for Social Work

About the Researcher: Mick served children and their families for 35 years and college students for 5 years as an LCSW.  In that time he has had more than 100 MSW II interns and has an ongoing interest in both field instruction and clinical supervision . In addition, Mick volunteered for three state's Societies for Clinical Social Work (including as Board President). He currently chairs the Ethics Committee and the CEU Committee of CSCSW. 

Description of the Study: This qualitative study interviews two groups of 2nd year, strong, clinical field instructors at a state university who either prioritize teaching advocacy skills at the higher, specialist-year level or prioritize other learning opportunities over these advocacy skills. This research uses a narrative approach to listen for, analyze, and explicate: 

(1) best practices in teaching specialist level advocacy skills at micro, mezzo and macro levels, (2) the field instructors’ motivators that affected their prioritization,

(3) obstacles to prioritize the teaching of these skills, and 

(4) strategies that field instructors used that overcame the obstacles.

In order to further objectivity and promote efficiency, this researcher uses NVivo for Mac (v. 12.2.0 ) to best document what the field instructors actually say, to transcribe, code and note the field instructors’ interviews, and to code in a manner where a field instructor’s quote can reflect several different themes and similarities and differences between the interviewees could be identified, examined and analyzed.

Inspiration for the Study: I am concerned that administrative needs for maximizing revenue -- especially since the Great Recession -- has led MSW II field instructors (FIs) to de-prioritize the teaching of higher-level advocacy skills and give a higher priority to teaching short term interventions. I hope to find that FIs, despite administrative pressures, are staying true to social work's values and teaching micro, mezzo and macro advocacy at an advanced level to interns in clinical settings.

Methodological Approach: A narrative approach that interviews two different types of expert nominated FIs (Hi and Lo prioritizers of teaching advocacy).

Implications: FIs will be in a better position to pushback and use this research to stay true to social work's unique identity

Challenges Encountered: The "strong field instructors in clinical settings" were nominated by the Social Work Faculty. I would not have enough nominated FIs if the Field Director did not take an active role in encouraging her peers to respond to my e-mail request. 

Twenty 1-1/2 hour interviews created a mountain of transcription and coding. In hindsight, I wish I structured each interview to be between 45" and one hour.

Some FI's used the terms "advocacy" and "macro" synonymously. The researcher needed to differentiate and define micro, mezzo and macro advocacy.

Some nominated field instructors were surprised that the faculty saw them as being in "clinical" settings (school social work, medical social work, hospice work.) I had to clarify that they qualified before they would agree to be interviewed.

Questions or comments for Michael? Email him at: