Social Work


Spring 5-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

Type of Paper/Work

Banded Dissertation


Catherine Marrs Fuchsel


This banded dissertation is an exploration into the role of social work education in leadership development. While the social work profession has a long history of strong leaders, fewer students are selecting leadership as an area of specialization in their graduate studies (Peters, 2018). Guided by Constructive Developmental Theory (Kegan, 1994), social work educators can implement strategies to develop students to higher levels of cognitive capacity, resulting in a workforce that is better prepared for roles as positional leaders, as well as the broader work of the profession.

The first product of this banded dissertation is a research study, exploring the presence of leadership content within the 2015 Council on Social Work Education Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (CSWE EPAS). A qualitative textual content analysis method, using an a priori codebook, was employed to review the CSWE EPAS and Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy was used to analyze content for cognitive level. Findings indicate the presence of leadership content throughout the CSWE EPAS, and of the terms analyzed, most were found to be at a moderate to high cognitive level.

The second product, a conceptual paper, presents an argument for implementing leadership development into the implicit curriculum in social work education. This paper utilizes Constructive Developmental Theory (Kegan, 1994) and Vertical Leadership Development (Petrie, 2014; 2015) to present a model that transforms the role of the academic advisor to one of leadership developer.

The third product is a workshop presentation given at the Network for Social Work Managers 2019 Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois. This workshop introduced participants to the second banded dissertation product and provided an opportunity to apply the theoretical models to their own workplace experiences.

Leadership concepts were found throughout the 2015 CSWE EPAS, including within the competencies that define the baseline for effective practitioners. Inclusion in this area specifically lends to the argument that leadership is a generalist skill and should be included in social work courses and learning related to leadership should be assessed. Findings encourage social work educators to consider ways in which to include this content outside of the traditional classroom setting, in order to allow for development to occur. Further research is needed on ways in which implicit and explicit educational strategies can foster this development, and how that development can be measured and assessed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 License

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