Writing Skills and Related Behaviors of MSW Students, Faculty, & Field Instructors

Jan Miner, Fordham University


This study investigates the writing skills, writing anxiety, and writing self-efficacy of social work students, faculty and field instructors. It furthered examines the behaviors that students engage in to improve their writing when criticized by their instructors, and whether their skills and self-efficacy are related logically to that criticism. Practices utilized by faculty and field instructors that help improve writing competence in students are also studied, along with factors that influence use of these strategies. A convenience sample of 236 students, 198 faculty members, and 207 field instructors completed an online survey that included a writing test based on the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP), a standardized achievement test used by colleges for placement purposes, writing anxiety questions based on Daly & Miller’s Writing Apprehension test and a writing self-efficacy scale created for this study. Results indicate students’ perceptions about their writing, particularly when it is problematic, does not match their performance or, on an individual skill level, their instructors’ criticisms. Very few students seek resources that help them improve their writing skills. Tenured and pre-tenured faculty are more likely than clinical or adjunct faculty to engage in classroom strategies aimed at improving student writing. Field instructors are motivated primarily by their overall perception about the state of student writing. Implications include the need to educate adjunct faculty about classroom strategies to improve writing and compensate them fairly for the time this effort takes, the need for schools to commit to the obligation of graduating students who write clearly and the need to help students accept the reality that they may have achieved their undergraduate degrees in spite of poor writing skills, but that professional education requires more. Field instructors may also need some remedial writing instruction but can also be untapped resources for helping improve the professional writing of students.

Subject Area

Social work|Social studies education

Recommended Citation

Miner, Jan, "Writing Skills and Related Behaviors of MSW Students, Faculty, & Field Instructors" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10808909.