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Standard 8

Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility

The program provides candidates with opportunities and experiences to assess their own self-esteem and to demonstrate an understanding of principles associated with the building of (a) self-esteem, (b) personal and social responsibility, and (c) their relationship to the life-long learning process.


The MSW and PPS program provides candidates with knowledge of the principles associated with self- esteem and personal and social responsibility. Coursework and field practicum provide the opportunity to demonstrate skill in assessment and methods of intervention around issues of self-esteem and personal and social responsibility. 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 courses that address each of the content areas are listed and discussed below.

Understanding of principles associated with building self-esteem

Candidates acquire foundation knowledge of individual development and the bio psychosocial and spiritual context for this development as it occurs through the life span in S Wrk 212: Human Behavior in the Social Environment: A Multi Systems Approach. This course examines the tandem development of the individual and family, including the interpersonal, familial, and environmental factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of positive self-esteem. For example, see course content on Theories of Lifespan Development.

Candidates develop an appreciation for the importance of self-esteem in all aspects of individual functioning, including positive interpersonal relationships and the ability to effectively engage in the learning process. There is also examination of the development of effective self direction, forms of resiliency, and the factors which can disrupt healthy growth and development. S Wrk 213, Human Behavior in the Social Environment: Diversity and Oppression, focuses on ethnic and cultural diversity and facilitates understanding of the critical influence of culture and oppression in the development of identity, self-esteem, and coping abilities. S Wrk 275, Advanced Social Work Practice in Schools II, reviews some of this foundation content and provides specific information relevant to practice in a school setting. This content includes defining self esteem and participating in a class exercise on self esteem. Candidates complete a Self-Esteem Assessment Chart (Gibbs, 1987) that entails evaluating the opinion of self and others on ten dimensions of the self such as intelligence, appearance, personality and abilities. This exercise provides all candidates with the opportunity and experience to assess their own self esteem. Candidates then participate in class discussion and reflection on the insight gained from this exercise and its relevance to their own practice. In addition, they are provided with other self esteem assessment tools such as a Roles Questionnaire (Morganett, 1990) and the Self-Concept Assessment (Hailey, Hair & Moore, 2008) for use with pupils in their field internship. Course content also includes exploring risk and resilience factors, the role of peers, the impact of self-esteem on the learning process, and exposure to curriculum that addresses principles of self-esteem, personal and social responsibility. This course content is found in week 2, Advanced Social Work Practice with Youth.

In addition to the individual and family contexts for the development of self- esteem, PPS candidates also gain knowledge of larger system level factors that influence self-esteem. In S Wrk 212, Human Behavior in the Social Environment HBSE: A Multi Systems Approach, candidates acquire foundation knowledge of group dynamics, organizational functioning, and the features and dynamics of community behavior that influence human behavior. For example, see one of the assignments for S Wrk 212: Paper III: Workingwith Organizations and/or Communities.

This theoretical understanding is expanded upon in both of the school social work courses, S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275. Specific content is presented regarding the social organization of schools, education policies, classroom management and school climate. These larger system factors are examined in light of the reciprocal influence with the individual pupil, his/her sense of self-esteem, and the resulting impact on behavior and learning. The critical influence of these larger system factors is emphasized to prepare candidates to practice effectively in consultation, collaboration, advocacy and program planning with parents, school personnel and community members.

Understanding principles associated with building personal and social responsibility and life-long learning

The Seminar in Foundations for Social Work Practice I and II (S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221) focuses candidates on interventions from a strength based and empowerment perspective. As such, students learn engagement practices to build rapport and support client self-determination in relation to the client’s goals. For example, see the following lab exercise from S Wrk 220: Skill Exercise. From a person-environment interaction perspective, students learn to differentiate contributions that the individual/pupil can bring toward meeting their goals, and the supports that the pupil needs in order to achieve his/her learning goals. The Seminar in Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, S Wrk 224, focuses students on assessment of multi systems factors, such as individual, social support, and environmental, that present problems in pupils taking responsibility for their own learning. In S Wrk 274 and S Wrk 275 candidates learn about specific approaches that facilitate enhancing pupil motivation and responsibility taking in service of their learning needs.

The opportunity to apply these principles to practice occurs in Advanced Field Instructed Practice I and II. S Wrk 282 and S Wrk 283 provide experiences in applying interventions to facilitate pupils taking responsibility for their behavior and their learning. The PPS learning agreement includes assignments under competency 2 that specifically address the development of personal and social responsibility and self-esteem.Intervention also takes place with families and school personnel to facilitate understanding of the relationship of self esteem and responsibility to the process of life-long learning.

Demonstrate skill in assessment and intervention

The coursework described above provides the theoretical foundation for understanding the principles associated with self-esteem and personal and social responsibility. Candidates progress from the foundation to the advanced concentration and acquire knowledge and skill for assessment and intervention. S Wrk 220 and S Wrk 221, Foundations for Social Work Practice I and II, and S Wrk 224: Advanced Social Work Practice with Individuals, provide the curricular components for multi dimensional assessment, planning and intervention with individuals. Candidates learn specific methods for establishing rapport and conducting a thorough, multidimensional, assessment from a strength based perspective. For example, see the assessment assignment for S Wrk 224, the Midterm Paper: . Integral to any individual assessment is evaluation of self-esteem and its influence on functioning.

Candidates also learn a range of methods for intervening to improve individual functioning, including collaborative work with families and school personnel, advocacy and linkage to community resources. Throughout the MSW program, candidates are concurrently enrolled in field practicum (S Wrk 280/281 and S Wrk 282/283). The field practicum provides the opportunity to apply classroom learning to actual practice. Students gain experience in psychosocial assessment during the first year practicum.

This experience is strengthened in the second year placement in the schools. Candidates learn to utilize multiple measures to formulate a multi dimensional assessment of pupils, including self-esteem. For example, see the S Wrk 282 advanced learning agreement assignment on conducting multi-dimensional,multi-systemic assessments. They also have the opportunity to provide interventions to improve self- esteem and increase personal and social responsibility. These interventions include supportive counseling, social skills training, peer mediation, and teacher and parent consultation.

An important component of effective social work practice which is incorporated into all MSW and PPS coursework is evaluation of practice. Candidates are informed of the ethical responsibility to continuously evaluate their practice and make adjustments as necessary to increase their efficacy. Formal mechanisms for evaluation occur through MSW/PPS supervision, performance evaluations, and evaluation of practice assignments. These mechanisms allow candidates to deepen self awareness regarding their own self- esteem and its influence on their practice and effectiveness.


Gibbs, J. (1997). Tribes: A process for social and cooperative learning. Santa Rosa, CA: Center Source


Hailey, H.A., Hair, E.C. & Moore, K.A. (2008). Assessing what kids think about themselves: A guide to adolescent self-concept for our out-of-school time programs. Child Trends, Publication # 2008-32.

Morganett, R.S. (1990). Skills for living: Group counseling activities for young adolescents. Illinois: Research Press.

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