Assessing Students’ Values in an Era of Changeedit
Although ours is a “value-laden” profession, it is often difficult to know when students have acquired appropriate values. This study reports on an effort designed to measure beginning BSW students’ perceived ethical conflicts, to examine their values relative to third and fourth year students and employed social workers, and to determine if beginning students’ values change during an introduction to social work course. Even before but especially after the Republican party began promoting its Contract with America, some social work educators began noticing a troubling conservatism among their students (Meyer, 1995). It may not be unusual today to find new social work majors who believe that women should not have the right to choose abortion, that most welfare recipients voluntarily elect not to work, and that AIDS is divine punishment for being gay. However, any trend toward conservatism should not be surprising. Land (1988) has noted that social work values have always vacillated with the era.