Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Social work with older people, Social workers-Psychology, Social workers-Attitudes, Motivation (Psychology), Social work education, Older people-Study and teaching (Graduate), Older adults, Competencies, Preparadness, Smith College School for Social Work-Alumni and alumnae, Attitudes toward older adults, MSW curriculum


This quantitative study explores Smith College School for Social Work (SCSSW) Master of Social Work (MSW) alumni perceptions of the SCSSW curriculum in the area of agingrelated practice, and the contribution of their educational experience to their preparedness, motivation, and decision to work with older adults. SCSSW MSW alumni from the years 2007 to 2011 (N = 77) comprised the study sample. The 50-item online survey, including two openended questions, was emailed to participants based on contact information they had provided to the alumni office of the School. Questions included original items developed by the author of this study and selected items from the UCLA Geriatric Attitudes Scale (GAS) and the Geriatric Social Work Competency Scale (GSWCS) II. Findings indicate that while recent graduates of SCSSW hold generally positive attitudes toward older adults and recognize the importance of serving this population, on the whole they feel underprepared to carry out professional work with the older adult population and are generally not seeking employment in this field. Alumni feel more competent in their clinical skills than in skills involved in navigating systems and identifying resources; they also felt less prepared in their understanding of the medical issues related to the aging population. Finally, participants express a desire for greater integration of older adult coursework in the curriculum. Considerations for enhancements to MSW curriculums and further research are provided.




iv, 82 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 66-72)