Practice Evaluation and Social Group Work in Elementary Schools


Social Work

Date of this version


Document Type



practice evaluation, social group work, school social work, empirical




The year-end reports of the group work practice of 15 elementary school social workers were analyzed to determine clarity of goals, intervention methods, and evaluation strategies. It was found that goals were articulated but not quantified. Purposes and intervention methods were clearly documented. Goals for individual members were identified more frequently than group goals.

Evidence of group processes was commonly used as markers of group success. Social workers used a variety of activities and discussion to accomplish these goals. Pragmatic outcome indicators, such as ember, parent, and teacher statements about goal accomplishment, improved quality of life, and increased ability to cope, were used more often to assess outcomes than empirical indictors. Identification of group processes and member enjoyment of the group were indicators of group success that emerged from the reports. These pragmatic indicators appeared to be somewhat useful in evaluating group work processes in these elementary settings. Outcome effectiveness was not well documented in these groups, however, because empirical results were rarely defined. Because of the ethical mandate to evaluate practice effectiveness, and because clients prefer the use of objective outcome measures, school social workers would be well advised to document outcomes more effectively in their group work practice.





Published in

Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work

Citation/Other Information

Garrett, K. J. (2004). Practice evaluation and social group work in elementary schools. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 1(4), 15-31. https://doi.org/10.1300/J394v01n04_02