Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Carroll A. Londoner


Individuals employed as social workers in local public welfare agencies in Virginia are not required to have a social work degree or mandated to participate in continuing professional development activities as a condition of their employment. The study employed survey research to investigate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities of Social Workers employed in local Departments of Social Services or Welfare in Virginia. Two social work-related focus groups and an expert panel of adult educators helped identify CPD activities used to construct the survey. The resulting twenty (20) CPD activities, used as the dependent variables for the study, were: formal education, mandatory training, voluntary training, supervision, mentoring, coaching, shadowing, formal peer interaction, informal peer interaction, instructing others, instructional development, computer-based learning, work-related teams, professional meetings, professional memberships, professional licensure/certification, testing/ inventories, professional reading, professional writing and critique, and reflective practice. The independent variables, employee characteristics of job class, program/practice area, total years of employment in a local agency, highest level of education, major, and agency class, were also surveyed. A proportionate, stratified random sample, N=330, of social work staff in Virginia's local public welfare agencies was surveyed. The overall response rate was 62.7% (N = 207). For each of the twenty CPD activities, survey respondents were asked whether they had participated in the activity "ever", "within the last 3 years", and , if so, their assessment of the "impact" of the activity on their practice, Significant difi‘erences were found for impact on practice between those who had participated within the last three years in an activity and those who had not. There was statistically significant evidence that there is some association of certain CPD activities with time in the job and with area of practice. Two activities which had some of the highest levels of participation and were identified as contributing to professional development were professional reading and shadowing. Professional writing had the least participation, but a high level of impact for those who do participate. Further study of the relationship of the length of time employed and program/practice area hold some promise for identifying CPD patterns.


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