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Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School for Social Work


Social work gatekeeping, Social work education, BSW gatekeeping, Gatekeeping theory, Grounded theory


Faculty in social work education are responsible for gatekeeping, yet there is some tension among faculty on the issue of gatekeeping. The purpose of this study was to develop a theoretical model regarding BSW faculty’s perception of their gatekeeping role. Gatekeeping was defined as the process faculty commence when a student is not meeting the social work program standards. In a qualitative, grounded theory study from a realism epistemological framework, 31 full-time faculty members, field coordinators, and program coordinators from different types of institutions throughout the United States were interviewed. Participants described a range of positive, conflicted, and negative experiences in exercising their gatekeeping role. They identified barriers to and facilitators of gatekeeping as well as risks and benefits of gatekeeping. This study presents a theoretical model that predicts faculty behavior in their gatekeeping role. It also provides implications for social work programs and faculty to acknowledge the internal and external context at play in gatekeeping practices. It also challenges faculty and programs to reframe how they view gatekeeping practices and how they perceive the faculty and student relationships. Implications for social work education and future research were discussed.


©Lynn Raine. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers on campus. Smith College community members also may access off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other researchers off-campus can request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for person use.




vii, 106 pages : illustration. Includes bibliographical references (pages 95-98)