Authors: Dr. Courtney Wiest
Abstract: The study examined sense of community for traditional foundation (BSW) social work students compared to fully online (MSW) foundation students. The literature highlighted mixed findings related to sense of community in the online setting. Along with the mixed results, the literature discussed the controversy of online learning in a “people profession”. The study had a total of 90 participants and utilized the validated Classroom Community Scale by Rovai (2002). The scale examined students’ self-reported sense of connectedness and learning. Along with comparing the two groups, the study examined sense of community related to employment status and age range. The study found there was a significant difference between the traditional face-to-face BSW program and the online MSW program. The MSW group scored higher in both the Connectedness and Learning subscales. As for the findings related to employment and age range, there were no significant differences in either the Connectedness or Learning subscales. The study’s findings were based on a small sample size which cannot be generalized to the social work population as a whole; however, the findings open the door for further research to investigate online social work programs.
Keywords: Sense of Classroom Community, online Social Work and connectedness