The program provides candidates with opportunities and experiences to demonstrate self- awareness, sensitivity to others, and skillfulness in relating to individuals and groups. The program provides candidates with opportunities and experiences to understand the importance of socio-psychological concepts of group formation, reference groups, inter-group and intra-group relations and conflict. The program provides candidates with opportunities and experiences to demonstrate an ability to facilitate group process and mediate conflict.
PPS candidates have opportunities and experiences to demonstrate interpersonal relationship and communication skills. They also develop awareness of group dynamics and skills to facilitate group process and mediate conflict. Demonstration that each content area has been satisfactorily learned and applied is evidenced by a passing grade in the relevant courses, an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher, and a grade of “Credit” for the field practicum. The specific content areas are listed and discussed below.
Experiences to demonstrate interpersonal relationship and communication skills
Experiences to demonstrate interpersonal relationship and communication skills are available in the classroom and in supervised internships. PPS candidates develop foundation knowledge of theories and conceptual models of interpersonal relationship and communication in S Wrk 212, Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach. For example, see the S Wrk 212 course calendar on Theoretical Perspectives on Human Behavior.
Small group and organizational contexts for human behavior are examined with a focus on critical concepts such as communication and interaction patterns, group culture, leadership and power. In S Wrk 246, Social Work Practice with Formal Organizations, students build on this foundation and learn the skills necessary for promoting and instituting effective human relations in organizational settings. Course content includes information on personnel and staffing, communication, supervision and leadership.
An appreciation of ethnic and cultural diversity is a core component of interpersonal relationships in any practice environment. In Cultural Diversity and Oppression (S Wrk 213) students learn about the role of the sociopolitical context of racism, sexism and other “isms” for shaping interactions between individuals of diverse groups such as teachers and pupils. The course also addresses social identity issues relevant to the candidate, the pupil and the teacher that may bear on the interaction between them. The course includes a number of assignments that require critical thinking on matters of human relations, such as this essay. S Wrk 212 presents unique developmental and life span factors and diversity issues that may influence teacher/pupil and pupil/pupil interactions.
Practice courses focus on skill development for relating effectively with diverse individuals and groups. The Seminar in Foundations for Social Work Practice I and II (S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221) prepare students for the importance of utilizing cross culturally relevant helping skills in building rapport, engagement, and following. One example from S Wrk 220 is found in week one under Skill Exercises. Self-awareness and sensitivity to others are fostered in the development of these skills.
The Seminar in Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals (S Wrk 224) and the Seminar in Advanced Social Work Practice with Couples and Families (S Wrk 227) and Groups (S Wrk 225) prepare students to apply cross culturally relevant skills in their assessment and interventions with individuals and families, as well as with groups. These skills provide a foundation for practice with teachers and other school staff coping with conflict as it occurs on school sites. For example, see the content from S Wrk 227 on Change Process Skills. The Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools courses, S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275, provide content on identifying issues that may arise in teacher/pupil and pupil/pupil interaction. This content facilitates developing perspectives that assist in understanding the interaction and responding in ways to enhance communication in these situations.
Field Instructed Practice (S Wrk 280/281 and 282/283) provides the practice experience to demonstrate interpersonal relationship and communication skills, including self-awareness, sensitivity to others, and skillfulness in relating to individuals and groups. Students complete a range of supervised learning assignments as part of the learning agreement for each of the four semesters of internship. These assignments vary each semester and increase in complexity as students’ progress through the program. One example if from the S Wrk 281 learning agreement which requires students to Complete 2 processrecordings to evaluate progression of foundation helping skills and ability to manage barriers tointervention.There is consistent opportunity to develop and demonstrate key interpersonal and communication skills.
Understands importance of group dynamics and skills to mediate conflict
Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach (S Wrk 212) familiarizes students with the theoretical foundations of group processes, organizational dynamics and community supports that enhance social interaction and promote supportive environments for teacher-pupil and pupil- pupil interaction. This content is taught as part of Social Group Theories.
In S Wrk 213, Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Cultural Diversity and Oppression, concepts related to social identity and experience as a diverse pupil in a dominant culture setting provide some insight into possible stressors that can interfere with successful interpersonal relationships for pupils with their teacher or with other students. Also, the Seminar in Social Work Practice with Formal Organizations (S Wrk 246) provides knowledge about the skills needed for the administration of organizations that can enhance promotion of social interaction/human relations and mediate conflict. For example, see the content on Staff Motivation and Team-Building. In the Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools I and II (S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275), students learn about the various groups in public schools and the common sources of conflict that arise among and between groups.
Foundation content regarding group formation and group dynamics is also presented in S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221, Seminar in Foundations for Social Work Practice I and II. Course readings and discussion highlight important principles of group practice. For example, S Wrk 220 has a unit devoted to Applying the Generalist Model to a Mezzo System I (Groups). This content is reinforced in the foundation field practicum, S Wrk 280/281 in which students demonstrate understanding of group formation and group dynamics by completing required group practice assignments such as observing the dynamics of a group meeting in the agency and facilitating a task oriented group.
During the advanced year of the program, students complete S Wrk 225, Advanced Social Work Practice with Task and Treatment Groups. This course provides in-depth content on group formation, group norms and dynamics, and the skills necessary for effective facilitation (see the COURSE SCHEDULE).
Specific methods/techniques to resolve conflict are taught within the context of individuals, families and groups. Knowledge of strategies to reduce external environmental stressors, dilute conflict, and expand pupil’s capacity to contain differences and/or utilize differences in the service of growth are offered in the micro practice courses, i.e., Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, (S Wrk 224), Advanced Social Work Practice with Couples and Families (S Wrk 227), and Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups (S Wrk 225). S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275 include specific content on school violence, bullying, and social skills. Specific programs and practice strategies for conflict resolution and peer mediation are included in course readings and class discussions.
Opportunities and experiences to demonstrate an ability to facilitate group process and mediate conflict
Students have opportunities and experiences with group facilitation and conflict mediation in practice classes as well as during both years of supervised field internship. The foundation practice courses, S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221, include weekly experiential exercises to facilitate skill development. One example from S Wrk 221 can be found here - Skill practice. Thus, students gain some classroom experience with group process and group facilitation. This content is reinforced in the foundation field practicum, S Wrk 280/281 when students complete required group practice assignments such as observing the dynamics of a group meeting in the agency and facilitating a task oriented group.
The second year of the program provides coursework in the advanced, multi systems practice concentration. Courses include role playing and small group exercises to enhance student learning of complex practice skills. In S Wrk 225, Advanced Social Work Practice with Groups, students participate in an on-going group experience as a parallel process to the practice content presented in the course. Students are also concurrently enrolled in the advanced year of field internship, S Wrk 282/283 and are required to complete assignments in assessing, forming and facilitating both a task and treatment group as part of their internship. See assignments 3, 6 and 7 in the S Wrk 282 learning agreement under MultiSystems Social Work Practice. Similarly, the context for unifying knowledge and skill about conflict resolution is the practicum experience, Advanced Field Instructed Practice (S Wrk 282/283). It is within the school placement setting that the PPS candidate, under guided supervision, applies those strategies to effect conflict resolution.