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. 


Gary Kwok

Gary Kwok

Project FORWARD (Facing Obstacles in Relationships and Work with Action, Resources, Direction)

Student Researchers: Delores A. Owens and Gary Kwok 

About the Researchers: Gary is a 5th year PhD Candidate in the School of Social Work at Adelphi University. Using a strength-based approach, his research intersects LGBTQ communities, racial identities, adolescence development, and mental health disparities. On his free time, Gary likes to watch cooking shows and imagine how they would’ve tasted.

Delores A. Owens, MPH, MPA is a PhD Candidate at Adelphi University School of Social Work. Her research interests include: health disparities among low socioeconomic status populations, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women, girls at risk or involvement in the juvenile justice system, youth culture and interpersonal relations [abuse] and social media

Delores A. Owens

Delores A. Owens

Description of the Study: Project FORWARD is a federally funded partnership to evaluate intervention programs targeting behavioral health, family violence prevention, criminal justice, economic stability, and job development among youth and young adults.

Purpose: The purpose of the project is to understand the programs from the perspective of different stakeholders (e.g., clinicians and clients) and provide recommendations to improve services to all partners.

Methodological Approach: We incorporated a mixed method approach. We surveyed participants and used the quantitative data to assess the efficiency of the program. We also interviewed and hosted focus groups with service providers on various aspects of the programs. 

Findings: We noticed that there may be a possible gap between intervention curriculum and the participants. Particularly, we found that the current dating violence prevention curriculum lacks up-to-date materials on the current relationship cultural (e.g., sexting, dating languages, etc.). 

Anticipated Implications: We anticipate that the results will inform all the stakeholders on the current state of the programs. It also gives us insights to how to tailor interventions to better serve the clients in the communities. 

Challenges Encountered: One of the lessons we learned was strategizing ways to maintain an acceptable response rate in longitudinal research with adolescents. Various strategies must be involved including: timing (e.g., recruiting in the summer vs. follow up during summer recess), using online survey platform, having a healthy working relationship and constant communication with their teachers, and so forth. 

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. 


Exploring the Interaction of Student Loan Debt and Longevity Planning within the Context of the Family

Julie Miller

Julie Miller

Student Researcher: Julie Miller

About the Researcher: Julie Miller, MSW, is a fourth year doctoral candidate at Boston College and a Research Associate at the MIT AgeLab. She earned her MSW from UC Berkeley and her Bachelors of Science from Northeastern University.

Description of the Study: Julie's doctoral dissertation explores how student loans are experienced by individuals and within families. Her work focuses on ways in which borrowers of different ages perceive and prioritize retirement and longevity-planning in light of student loans and loan debt and how families navigate student loan accrual and repayment.

Inspiration for the Study: As people live longer lives, economic security across the life course is especially vital. The burden of student loans may drive some individuals and families further down the socioeconomic ladder rather than up.

Methodological Approach: My dissertation uses qualitative and quantitative data collected at the MIT AgeLab through a concurrent triangulation mixed methods study design.

Findings: Preliminary results suggest that, particularly among women, planning for future financial security for oneself and/or family members may be less achievable with the presence of student loan debt. In addition, student loan repayment can influence family dynamics, including willingness and ability to provide intergenerational transfers to aging parents and dependent children.

Anticipated Implications: My dissertation highlights gaps in knowledge that policymakers, practitioners, and social work scholars can begin to address with current and potential student loan borrowers.

Challenges Encountered: I collected my own data for my dissertation, so some challenges stemmed from developing survey and focus group instruments- learning how to ask the right questions and testing and re-testing. Other challenges arose when integrating mixed methods and wanting to do all of my data justice.

Questions or comments for Julie? Email her at: millabj@bc.edu

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: mrogers@smith.edu

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. 


Erum Agha

Erum Agha

Health and Behavioral Health of Refugee Women Resettled in the United States

Student Researcher: Erum Agha, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 

About the Researcher: Erum is a 4th year doctoral student. Her research focuses on identifying and addressing health and behavioral health needs and disparities of refugee women, their health service utilization, and interventions to address unmet health and behavioral health needs. Erum is also a clinician and enjoys trail running.

Description of the Study: Erum's 3-paper dissertation will examine the incidence and prevalence of mental illness among refugee women, seek refugee and provider perspectives on health and behavioral health needs and analyze a national data set to explore service utilization patterns by urban and rural origins.

Inspiration for the Study: Erum's research agenda is motivated by improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in our society and addressing the worst global humanitarian refugee crisis in history through research.

Methodological Approach: Erum is conducting a systematic literature review, a qualitative study and using quantitative methods and a national data set to examine health, behavioral health and service utilization among refugee women.

Findings: Erum's research will explore the prevalence and incidence of mental illness among refugee women and service utilization patterns based on urban and rural origins. Her qualitative study is projected to provide valuable information upon which future assessments and interventions for behavioral health of resettled Syrian refugee women can be based.

Implications: Uniformity of assessment of immediate refugee needs, and systems in place to address long-term needs is the first step in improving the health of resettled refugees. Increasing awareness of behavioral health by implementing policy level programs including public education has the potential to change attitudes and is the next step.

Challenges Encountered: Conducting research with refugees is challenging given their high mobility and language and cultural barriers. Use of trained interpreters, providing cultural training for researchers, seeking refugee perspectives, and developing and implementing culturally relevant interventions will increase engagement and improve outcomes for refugees.

Questions or comments for Erum? Email her at: erum@live.unc.edu

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. 


Examining the DSM-5 Latent Structures of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in a National Sample of Student Veterans

Student Researcher: Malisa M. Brooks, University of Utah

Malisa M. Brooks

Malisa M. Brooks

About the Researcher: As a 2nd year doctoral student, my research interests include the assessment and treatment of sexual trauma in civilian and military populations, posttraumatic stress disorder, and using translational research to bridge research and clinical practice communities to improve treatment outcomes for trauma survivors. In my free time I play softball and basketball, and hike in the Wasatch Mountains with my 3 kids.

Description of the Study: This study conducted a confirmatory factor analysis to examine the latent structures of posttraumatic stress disorder on a national sample of student veterans; a population which had not yet been examined in this context. Multiple models were tested to see which would emerge (quantitatively) as "best-fitting" for this specific population.

Inspiration for the Study: This study began as an assignment for my SEM course, but as we began getting unexpected results, it turned into a much larger (and long term) project.

Methodological Approach: Survey data were gathered using Qualtrics Online Survey Software and analyzed for descriptive statistics using SPSS version 25. Mplus was used for confirmatory factor analysis.

Challenges Encountered: Learning to trust myself, my training/skill set, and the process was more challenging than I expected. Just because unexpected results are found, doesn't mean they are wrong; sometimes we are just breaking new ground!

Questions or comments for Malisa? Email her at: malisa.brooks@utah.edu

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 fall 2018 semester. 


Assessing Refugee Poverty Using Capabilities Versus Commodities

Mitra Naseh

Mitra Naseh

Student Researcher: Mitra Naseh, Florida International University

About the Researcher: Mitra Naseh is a PhD candidate (4th-year) and graduate assistant at the FIU. Her research is focused on refugees’ wellbeing. Mitra has several journal papers and book chapters on refugees’ welfare and is the co-author of the second edition of the Best Practices for Social Work with Refugees and Immigrants.

Study Description: This study is among the first to calculate poverty among one of the world’s largest refugee populations, Afghans in Iran. More importantly, it is one of the first to use capability and monetary approaches to provide a comprehensive perspective on Afghan refugees’ poverty and deprivation. 

Inspiration for the Study: I am an activist and as long as I can remember I have been involved in the humanitarian field, advocating for refugees’ rights.

Methodological Approach: I utilized basic needs poverty lines and the World Bank’s absolute poverty line for the monetary poverty analyses and the global Multidimensional Poverty Index for the capability analyses of poverty.

Findings: Nearly 50% Afghan households were income-poor, approximately 2% of the households had less than USD 1.25 per person per day, and about 28% were multidimensionally deprived. Results suggest that 60% of the income-poor households were not multidimensionally deprived, and about 32% of the multidimensionally deprived households were not income-poor.

Implications: In the absence of a prior published study on Afghan refugees’ poverty in Iran, this study provides a baseline. More importantly, it highlights some of the shortcomings of monetary poverty assessments, despite income levels higher than poverty lines, a considerable number of Afghan refugee households were multidimensionally deprived.

Challenges Encountered: Afghan refugees in Iran are considered a politically sensitive population and data collection for this study was extremely challenging.

Questions or comments for Mitra? Email her at: mahma024@fiu.edu

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 fall 2018 semester. 


A Trial of Confident Body, Confident Child

Student Researcher: Leslie Meskin, Florida Atlantic University

Leslie Meskin

Leslie Meskin

About the Researcher: Leslie Meskin is part of the inaugural cohort of Social Work Doctoral Candidates at Florida Atlantic University.  Leslie has been a clinician in a variety of settings since 1996. Her research interests include the prevention of eating disorders, cultural adaptation of behavioral health interventions and interprofessional education and practice.

Description of the Study: My capstone project is an uncontrolled repeated measure of Confident Body, Confident Child (CBCC), a two-time, two-hour manualized resource designed to help parents foster healthy eating patterns and body satisfaction in their young children. CBCC is an evidenced-based program that yielded significant results in decreasing risk factors associated with body dissatisfaction in children in a large randomly controlled trial in Australia.

Inspiration for the Study: Our society seeks to decrease high levels of body dissatisfaction but does not address its development. There is a need to intervene earlier to try to halt or minimize the development of body dissatisfaction rather than intervene once it is established.

Methodological Approach: This study aims to explore the effects of parental participation in the CBCC program. The participants in this study are parents of two to six-year-old children.

Challenges Encountered: A challenge to my implementation of the CBCC program was that many parents were not able to participate in the program due to language obstacles. Currently, the CBCC program is only available in English.

Questions or comments for Leslie? Email her at: lmeskin2016@fau.edu

 

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 fall 2018 semester. 


Addressing Alcohol's Role in Campus Sexual Assault

LB Klein

LB Klein

Student Researcher: Lauren "LB" Klein, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

About the Researcher: LB Klein, MSW, MPA is a third-year doctoral student in UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Social Work and fellow with the Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. Her research centers gender-based violence prevention, intervention, and policy with a particular focus on LGBTQ communities and implementation science.

Description of the Study: Addressing Alcohol’s Role in Campus Sexual Assault is a community participatory action research project to integrate research and practice evidence to help prevention specialists begin to answer the frequently asked question: How should our campus address alcohol in our sexual assault prevention efforts?

Inspiration for the Study: Campuses are urged to address alcohol’s role in campus sexual assault. However, there is limited guidance for sexual assault prevention specialists on how to do so.

Methodological Approach: This study used a critical feminist community participatory action research approach that included a systematic review, semi-structured interviews, and consultation with an expert advisory group.

Findings: This study yielded critical findings about practitioner challenges, gaps in existing literature and interventions, innovative and promising practices, recommendations for partnership and messaging, and vision for the future.

Implications: Campus-based prevention educators have critical insight into how to navigate university systems to effectively address alcohol's role in campus sexual assault.

Challenges Encountered: Integrating research and practice in an emerging field that lacks evidence-based intervention is both challenging and rewarding.

Questions or comments for LB? Email her: lbklein@unc.edu

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 fall 2018 semester. 


Skye Allmang

Skye Allmang

Getting Stuck or Moving Out: An Examination of Precarious Employment Trajectories and Self-Reported Health in Young Adults

Student Researcher: Skye Allmang, University of California, Los Angeles

About the Researcher: Skye Allmang is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Social Welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She holds a Master of Public Policy from Brandeis University and a Master of Social Welfare from UCLA. Her research focuses on youth employment issues, with a particular interest in addressing barriers to employment.

Description of the Study: My dissertation uses nationally-representative, longitudinal data to examine the relationship between changes in employment quality over the course of young adulthood and a range of health-related outcomes, including general health, mental health, and behavioral health outcomes.

Methodological Approach: I am using latent class analysis to identify four precarious employment trajectories. From there, I am conducting descriptive analyses, as well as analyses based on general linear models.

Implications: Findings are expected to have implications for the development of effective social programs and policies to prepare young adults to successfully enter and maintain employment within the current context of the U.S. labor market.

Questions or comments for Skye? Email her: skye.allmang@gmail.com

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 fall 2018 semester. 


Eliminating Classroom Isolation for Immigrant Students

Student Researcher: Kerri Evans, MSW, LCSW, Boston College

Kerri Evans

Kerri Evans

About the Researcher: Kerri Evans is a doctoral student at Boston College and her research focuses on creating welcoming school environments for immigrant students. Previously, she earned an MSW from the University of Maryland, and spent eight years working at the intersection of immigration and child welfare as a macro social worker.

Description of the Study: In this study I aim to better understand the facilitators and barriers to inclusive classrooms for immigrant students. Using the Health Behavior in School Children 2009-2010 data, I will assess the predictors of peer support in the classroom for immigrant students at the individual and school level.

Inspiration for the Study: When working, immigrant adolescents often spoke about the struggle to make friends, avoid bullying, and feel welcome in school. Throughout my career, I aim to improve school climate for newcomers.

Methodological Approach: Utilizing cross-sectional data (1,068 immigrants in US schools), I assess the influence of urbanicity, bullying prevention programs, bullying victimization, school counselors, and demographics on classroom peer support with HLM analyses.

Findings: Preliminary results show that bullying victimization (p<.001), race (p<.001), and age (p<.05) are significant predictors of peer supports in the classroom across all immigrant students and all schools.

Implications: With the immigrant population in the US on the rise, social workers need to advocate and strive for better inclusion and integration of immigrant children. Better understanding the predictors of positive peer support in the classroom can help staff to design interventions and assist youth in expanding their social networks.

Questions or comments for Kerri? Email her: kerri.evans@bc.edu

 

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 fall 2018 semester. 


Abigail Palmer Molina

Abigail Palmer Molina

Low-Income Mothers' Perceptions of Help-Seeking for Depression: A Thematic, Discourse Analysis by Language Group

Student Researcher: Abigail Palmer Molina, University of Southern California

About the Researcher: I am a third year PhD student and my research aims to promote the wellbeing of low-income young children and families, particularly by advocating for the expansion of two-generation programs. My research also examines how parental mental health and emotion regulation impact parenting and treatment engagement among low-income families.

Description of the Study: Maternal depression poses a threat to the well-being of poor minority mothers and their young children, yet disparities remain in treatment utilization among this population. Providing group treatment in early childhood settings may address this concern, but researchers must explore potential barriers to engagement, particularly those related to cultural/linguistic differences.

Inspiration for the Study: Among Head Start families, 38% identify as Hispanic and 25% report that Spanish is their primary language, so it is important to understand the perceptions of this particular group.

Methodological Approach: Focus groups were conducted to explore perceptions of help-seeking among English and Spanish-speaking mothers of Head Start children. Thematic and discourse analysis strategies were used to examine differences across groups.

Findings: Results revealed divergent beliefs about causes of depression and striking differences in the processes of group formation across language groups. Spanish-speaking groups engaged in self-disclosure and mutual support, enabling the development of rapport, whereas English-speaking groups engaged in less supportive talk, and used more techniques to distance themselves emotionally.

Implications: Findings demonstrate the importance of providing safe spaces for Spanish-speaking mothers to seek and offer support to one another, particularly due to participants’ experiences of social isolation. Findings also support the development of flexible group interventions and indicate that interventions should address participants’ experiences of poverty and other stressors.

Questions or comments for Abigail? Email her: acpalmer@usc.edu

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 fall 2018 semester. 


Youth Experiences Survey: Exploring the sex trafficking and labor trafficking experiences of homeless young adults in Arizona. 

Student Researcher: Kimberly A. Hogan, MA, MSW, PhD Student, Arizona State University

Kimberly A. Hogan

Kimberly A. Hogan

About the Researcher: Kimberly is a second-year doctoral student who has a focus on domestic sex trafficking. She works closely with the National Criminal Justice Training Center, AMBER Alert, City of Phoenix Starfish Place, and the Phoenix and Las Vegas Metropolitan VICE Units.  Her research work spans the prevention, detection, identification, and treatment of minor and adult sex trafficking victims.

Description of the Study: The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences reported by homeless young adults in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona and to explore the prevalence of sex and labor trafficking among the participants. This study also compares the life experiences and treatment needs of sex trafficked and non-sex trafficked homeless young adults and labor trafficked and non-labor trafficked homeless young adults.

Methodological Approach: This study utilized a cross-sectional research design and included a convenience sample of 187 homeless young adults aged 18 to 25 years old that completed a self-administered survey. The Youth Experiences Survey (YES) is a 65-item, paper and pencil survey.

Findings: Of the 2017 sample of 187 homeless young adult respondents, 58 (31%) reported experiencing sex trafficking exploitation, and 60 (32.1%) reported experiencing labor trafficking exploitation. At least one form of human trafficking (either sex or labor) was reported by 80 (42.8%) respondents and 38 (20.3%) respondents reported experiencing both sex and labor trafficking exploitation.

Implications: The results of the YES survey call on Arizona’s community to develop a comprehensive approach to screen for both labor and sex trafficking among homeless and runaway young people and to develop community protocols that outline services standards. Additional state and community-based funding is necessary to assist providers in maintaining services that meet the complex needs of our homeless youth and young adults.

Questions or comments for Kimberly? Email her: kimberly.hogan@asu.edu

 

Doctoral Student Spotlight

Technology’s Role in Sexual Violence, According to Service Providers

Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons

Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons

Student Researcher: Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons, University of Utah

About the Researcher: Kwynn has a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Work. She is interested in the intersections of technology, health, and gender-based violence. 

Study Description: (IRB approved) Conducting individual interviews (phone/video conferencing device or in-person) with service providers working with survivors of sexual violence. Providers can be anyone that’s ever worked with SV survivors including counselors, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, etc.  

Methodological Approach: Qualitative: Individual interviews (in-person or via video-conferencing tool)

Preliminary Findings: Technology’s role varies, with positive impacts on sexual violence (increased awareness, potentially increased prosecutions if assaults are electronically documented, may be able to reach survivors who cannot access traditional care settings); negative impacts mentioned include society’s minimization of online sexual violence; the potential for the trauma to be relived if evidence is online.

Implications: Raise awareness among service professionals about how technology-facilitated violence may affect their clients seeking care; illuminate the various roles of technology in sexual violence, positive and negative. 

Challenges Encountered: Recruitment.

Next Steps: Continue recruitment and conducting interviews.

To participate in this study, please email Kwynn at kwynn.gonzalezpons@gmail.com

Doctoral Student Spotlight

The SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force is creating a new series! We will begin to highlight the creative and meaningful research of doctoral students and candidates. This is the first in the series.


Facilitators and Barriers to Using Participatory Action Research Among Early Career Social Work Scholars

Catherine Kramer

Catherine Kramer

Student Researchers: Darren Cosgrove, LMSW, PhD Candidate and Catherine Kramer, LMSW, MPA, PhD Student at the School of Social Welfare, University at Albany – SUNY

About the Researchers: We are committed to youth-centered research and use of participatory action research (PAR) methods.

Darren Cosgrove

Darren Cosgrove

Darren: My work utilizes arts-based participatory action research to explore the lived experiences of non-binary and gender queer young adults. Using photovoice and reflective discussion, we are examining social expectations regarding gender as well as the ways in which non-binary identities are supported and stigmatized.

Catherine: I focus on young people who experience disadvantage and marginalization due to economic poverty, social isolation, and social exclusion. My research takes me across multiple settings – educational, juvenile justice and child welfare – in pursuit of organizational designs and practices that ensure healthy development and opportunity for young people. 

Study Description: PAR and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) offer opportunities for social work scholars to conduct research that addresses complex social issues. However, these methodologies often require researchers to navigate unique challenges and tensions, especially for scholars working within institutional settings that privilege traditional forms of research. Our study identifies the facilitators and barriers encountered by early career social work scholars.

Inspiration for the Study: As practicing social workers, we recognize the alignment between social work values – service, self-determination, social justice and others – and the philosophy underpinning PAR and CBPR, which emphasizes shared learning and knowledge generation and prioritizes social action and change. PAR and CBPR also link practice and research in ways congruent with social work. The continued underrepresentation of these methodologies in social work literature got us curious about the reasons why. 

Methodological Approach: This is a phenomenological study that involves collecting data through in-depth interviews with social work doctoral students and pre-tenure faculty. Additionally, we conducted a workshop at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry that served as a site for data-collection. We have plans to conduct a second data-collection workshop this fall. 

Next Steps: We are working toward completing data collection and beginning the data analysis process. Our hope is to present and publish our findings on the facilitators and barriers to using PAR methods among social work scholars, and on our data collection approach, specifically the interactive activities used during our workshops. Additionally, we are also exploring the possibility of an autoethnographic piece on our own experiences with PAR.  

Anticipated Implications: Our goal is to support conversations among social work scholars who are participatory action researchers, those who are interested in these methodologies, as well as the broader social work research community, about how to expand opportunities to build knowledge and promote social change. We anticipate that our research can serve as a tool for identifying new pathways for the pursuit of PAR in social work.

Advice for Other PhD Students Conducting Research: Our advice to doctoral students engaging in qualitative research – be adaptive! Our first data collecting workshop went differently than we hoped, but also delivered exactly what we needed because we kept focused on what was important and we relaxed into the evolving nature of qualitative work.