Essential Academic and Technical Standards of the University of New England School Social Work (SSW)

Principles:

Social work education requires simultaneous acquisition of theory and social work practice skills and is a competency-based education that rests upon a shared and accepted view of the nature of competence in professional practice. Social work competence is the ability to integrate and apply social work knowledge, values, and skills to practice situations in a purposeful, intentional, and professional manner to promote human and community well-being. (Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), 2015).

The essential technical standards presented are required for subsequent promotion from year-to-year, and ultimately graduating from the University of New England (UNE) with either a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) or a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree. These standards pertain to all students enrolled in either the online or on-campus MSW program at UNE.

UNE’s social work faculty is committed to fostering relationships with its students that encourage personal and professional growth. Its policies and procedures attempt to reflect this commitment to proactive and supportive communication. At the same time, it is imperative that all students recognize that the primary responsibility for a successful SSW education, both in and out of the classroom, rests with the student.

All students, including students with disabilities, must have the capacity to manage their lives and anticipate their own needs. Situations can arise in which a student’s behavior and attitudes resulting from a disability or other personal circumstances present a problem which impairs the student’s ability to meet the standards set forth, even after reasonable accommodations have been considered and, if appropriate, made by the program, all students must still meet the requirements set forth by the program.

All applicants, regardless of disability, will be held to the same admission standards, and all enrolled students, regardless of disability, will be held to the same academic standards, understanding that all properly submitted requests for reasonable accommodation will be considered.

Students are expected to maintain these academic and technical standards in all online, on-campus and UNE-sponsored off-campus activities, including clinical and fieldwork experiences and relevant community service. 

Academic Program Standards:

All students must complete all Social Work program requirements and receive a passing grade in all courses and practicums to be eligible for graduation. The graduating MSW student must have a cumulative grade point average of a 3.0 or better. In order to progress in the program BSW students must have a “C” or better in PSY 105 – Introduction to Psychology, SOC 150 – Introduction to Sociology, and SSW 200 – Introduction to Social Work. BSW students must also receive a “C” or better in PSY 205 – Abnormal Psychology, PSY 250 – Lifespan Development, PUB 300 – Global Health, and all social work courses. BSW students are given two chances to earn a “C” or better in their required coursework.

Technical Standards: 

Throughout the program, students are expected to maintain the technical standards set forth and demonstrate them online and in face-to-face interactions; this includes in their classroom comportment, written and oral products, and interactions with peers and faculty; in service learning settings, and in their field practicum and other professional experiences. Student behaviors that  fail to demonstrate these standards while in the program will be reviewed and appropriate action (e.g., remediation, counseling, or dismissal) will be taken. Because this expectation is separate from academic achievement, simply maintaining a GPA is not sufficient.

  1. Ethics

    The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics outlines explicit standards for professional conduct. All students are required to acquire their own copy of the “Code of Ethics”, and are subsequently responsible for reading, understanding, and following all Ethical Principals and Ethical Standards as outlined.

    Indicators of Concern:

    • Violation of NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws or policies

 

  1. Respect for Diversity and Social Justice

    UNE SSW students are expected to:  
  1. Exhibit a willingness to relate and work nonjudgmentally across difference with others.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of, and sensitivity to: diversity, oppression, and privilege, including a willingness to examine personal beliefs, values and assumptions that perpetuate oppression.
  3. Understanding that members of the social work profession must serve all persons in need of assistance, regardless of the person’s age, class, race, gender, religious affiliation, physical or cognitive ability level, sexual orientation, background, or value system.
  4. Demonstrate an interest in different cultural perspectives and circumstances and acknowledge diversity.
  5. Demonstrate the ability to solicit and identify quality sources of feedback, reflect on and integrate the feedback, learn from mistakes and failures. And provide meaningful feedback to others (e.g. appropriately discussing and supporting diversity, be responsive to feedback and constructive criticism regarding professional behavior and attitude and understand the seriousness of academic and disciplinary warnings).

    Indicators of Concern

    • Violation of NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws or policies.
    • Use of discriminatory language or stereotypes.
    • Inability to recognize the impact of their own personal values and behaviors on their relationship with others.
    • Discriminatory behavior or harassment towards others on the basis of race, gender, age sexual orientation, disability, religion, etc.

 

  1. Communication

    Communication includes speech, language, reading, writing, computer literacy, body language, and other, non-verbal cues.

    UNE SSW students are expected to:
  1. Ensure that all their communication is timely, respectful*, with speech free from bias, discriminatory language or stereotyping and responsive to the requests of faculty, field instructors, peers, clients, collaterals, potential and current practicum sites and associated personnel, and to the School, College, and University as a whole.
  2. To read all communications posted by the School of Social Work (SSW) and are responsible for staying abreast of current and ongoing information pertinent to their roles as graduate and professional students.  
  3. Advocate for their self in an ethical, direct, respectful and responsible manner using SSW and agency-specific channels for conflict management.
  4. Demonstrate respect for the privacy of their clients; refrain from gathering information about clients from online sources without the client’s consent (i.e. googling client history, accessing client social media); photographing clients; or publishing client information on social media.
  5. Follow relevant laws, field education agency policy, NASW Code of Ethics (1.07) pertaining to social media and in use of technology in all aspects of service delivery.
  6. Maintain awareness of how personal communications using social media could affect professional relationships with clients, colleagues, and agencies.
  7. That their written assignments demonstrate: good spelling, appropriate use of punctuation, clear structure, paragraphing, good organization, follows logical sequence. Consistent use of APA style.

    Indicators of Concern:

    • Violation of NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws or policies.
    • Use of discriminatory language or stereotypes.
    • Written work is frequently vague, shows difficulty in expressing ideas clearly and concisely.
    • Student has many errors in the areas of spelling, punctuation, structure, etc. and does not make effort to show improvement.
    • Appears to have plagiarized the work of others.
    • Demonstrating disrespectful behavior to self or others.
    • Communication is not reciprocated in a timely manner.

    Public use of social media which depicts self or others in ways that may be viewed as unprofessional or disrespectful

    *Respectful communication is partially explained in the NASW’s “Code of Ethics”:  

    • Social Workers treat each person, in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity…(pg. 5)
    • 2.0.2 Respect a) Social workers should treat colleagues with respect and should represent accurately and fairly the qualifications, views, and obligations of colleagues.  b) Social Workers should avoid unwarranted negative criticism of colleagues in verbal, written and electronic communications with clients or with other professionals. Unwarranted negative criticism may include demeaning comments that refer to colleagues’ level of competence, or to individuals’’ attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical ability. C) Social workers should cooperate with social work colleagues and with colleagues of other professions when such cooperation serves the well-being of clients.  (pg. 18)

  1. Intellectual

    UNE SSW students are expected to:
  1. To effectively solve problems students must be able to: measure, calculate, reason, analyze, comprehend, integrate and synthesize information from the clinical, natural and social sciences in a timely fashion.
  2. Have the ability to use computers for searching, recording, storing and retrieving information.
  3. Specialization year students must have the ability to use critical analysis to understand theory, research, literature, and principles that apply to social work practice and to apply inductive and deductive clinical reasoning to solve complex patient or client problems as necessary. 
  4. MSW students must be able to provide a reasoned explanation for likely intervention.
  5. Students must be able to recall and retain information in an efficient and timely manner.
  6. Students must have the ability toincorporate new information from peers, teachers, and literature in formulating treatment plans is essential.

    Indicators of Concern:

    • Limited or no access to computer and/or the internet
    • Inability to reasonably explain interventions used for treatment
    • Limited ability to incorporate feedback and information from peers, teachers and literature from the field.
    • Inability to problem solve without intervention from a faculty or supervisor.
  1. Openness and Willingness to Learn

    UNE SSW students are expected to:
  1. Demonstrate an openness to learning new ideas and perspectives.
  2. As required by the demands of professional practice, be flexible and adaptable in new situations and as circumstances change.
  3. Assume the stance of learning with humility (e.g. avoid relying solely on current or past professional or personal experiences to inform your decision-making in the field and in the classroom).
  4. Demonstrate a willingness to effectively communicate your learning needs.

    Indicators of Concern:

    • Monopolizes class discussion(s).
    • Constantly complains about class workload to the point that it impedes the class process.
    • Uses classroom tools, such as the discussion board, to make personal complaints or to lobby for personal issues.
    • Creates conflict which impedes leaning and/or building effective relationships.
    • Uncooperative or unwilling to participate in class or practicum activities.
    • Consistently late on assignments.
    • Consistently late to practicum site.
    • Does not sign into Blackboard as frequently as expected or is late or leaves class early.
    • Disruptive to the learning environment.
    • Uses derogatory language or makes demeaning remarks.
    • Unable or unwilling to accept feedback.
    • Responds in a defensive manner.
    • Consistently argumentative.
    • Academic misconduct.
    • Takes little initiative in exploring areas of learning growth.

 

  1. Professional and Behavioral Conduct: 

    Each SSW student enrolled at UNE is expected to:  
  1. Behave in responsible, reliable and dependable manner (e.g. manage time well; be on time for class; be on time for assignments, meetings and appointments; plan aheadand follow through with commitments; cooperate with person(s) in charge of programs; and take responsibility for absences or missed assignment(s). 
  2. Provide notice to faculty and/or person(s) in charge of programs when not able to follow through with commitments including assignments, class attendance and participation, and other responsibilities required by the program.
  3. Demonstrate personal integrity, honesty, and self-discipline (e.g. be consistent and truthful, to show appropriate personal control; take on tasks that they can manage; be honest in reports and self-evaluations). 
  4. Project a professional image, both online and in person, in manner, dress, grooming, speech and interpersonal relationships.
  5. Recognize their personal limitations and biases, whether they are intellectual, physical or emotional and to strive to overcome them. 
  6. Demonstrate the professional and emotional maturity to manage tensions and conflicts which occur among professional, personal, and family responsibilities, seeking professional help if necessary (e.g. acknowledge the conflict with all parties and work to resolve misunderstandings; get needed help from student support, tutors, counselors, learning assistance professionals and other qualified persons; show ability to prioritize appropriately one’s personal, professional, and academic expectations and activities). 
  7. Demonstrate the ability to exercise sound judgement and to function under pressure (e.g. request help when needed and to avoid endangering others; respect the difference between a licensed social worker and a social worker in training; remain focused on the task at hand; remember that as an SSW student they are representing UNE SSW and the social work profession to the greater community at large.)
  8. Demonstrate compassion and respect towards others (e.g. work cooperatively with differences and diversity in personalities and in cultural backgrounds as well as with differences in social and in economic status; and respect the privacy and individual choice of others). 
  9. Demonstrate consistent respect for administrators, faculty, staff, students of the University, as well as all personnel associated with current or potential practicum sties, clients, patients, families and collaterals. 
  10. Familiarize themselves with the policies and procedures of field sites for their clinical or field work placements and to act in accordance with those guidelines. Students should refer to the relevant policies of the specific institution and/or consult with clinical field instructors or supervisors. 
  11. Be informed of, and follow all Federal and State laws and agency policies regarding confidentiality and mandatory reporting.
  12. Demonstrate the ability to solicit and identify quality sources of feedback, reflect on and integrate the feedback, learn from mistakes and failures.

    Indicators of Concern:

    • Violation of NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws or policies
    • Creates conflict which impedes leaning and/or building effective relationships.
    • Uses classroom tools, such as the discussion board, to make personal complaints or to lobby for personal issues.
    • Uncooperative or unwilling to participate in class or practicum activities.
    • Consistently late on assignments.
    • Consistently late to practicum site.
    • Does not sign into Blackboard as frequently as expected or is late or leaves class early.
    • Disruptive to the learning environment.
    • Uses derogatory language or makes demeaning remarks.
    • Difficulty in listening (e.g. overly sensitive, externalizes blame, distorts communication).
    • Unable or unwilling to accept feedback.
    • Responds in a defensive manner.
    • Consistently argumentative.
    • Monopolizes class discussion(s).
    • Constantly complains about class workload to the point that it impedes the class process.
    • Unwilling or unable to develop an understanding of people different from oneself.
    • Inability to separate their personal values from professional values and responsibilities.
    • Inability to recognize the impact of their own personal values and behaviors on their relationship with others.
    • Discriminatory behavior or harassment towards others on the basis of race, gender, age sexual orientation, disability, religion, etc.
    • Physical action directed at clients, faculty, staff, colleagues, or fellow students.
    • Academic misconduct.
    • Takes little initiative in exploring areas of learning growth.

 

  1. Self-Understanding

    UNE SSW students are expected to:  
  1. Uses self-disclosure appropriately (e.g. students seem to have an insight, and self-awareness, and has resolved the issue they are sharing).
  2. Appears to be able to handle discussion of uncomfortable topics.
  3. Deals appropriately with issues which arouse emotions.
  4. Demonstrates an awareness of one’s own personal limits and biases.
  5. Understands the effect of one’s own behavior on others.
  6. Seeks supervision and feedback from others.
  7. Willing to examine, assess and reconcile (if need be) the relationship between their own personal values and their alignment with the professions ethics as outlined in NASW’s Code of Ethics.

    Indicators of Concern

    • When engaged in self-disclosure, the student appears to be working through unresolved issues and/or avoiding client issues.
    • The student appears to overreact to or resent feedback (e.g. takes it personally).
    • Appears unwilling or unable to control emotional reactions.
    • Verbal or physical threats directed towards clients, faculty, staff, coworkers, or students.
    • Demonstrates impaired judgement, decision-making, or problem-solving skills.
    • Consistent failure to demonstrate ability to form effective client/social worker relationship.

Reasonable Accommodations: 

  • Are intended to provide students with disabilities equal access to the University’s programs and services while upholding the academic, clinical, and technical standards of the MSW program.
  • Are provided only to the extent that such accommodation does not fundamentally alter the academic and/or technical standards of the BSW or MSW program or interfere with the rights of other students.
  • Do not exempt BSW or MSW students from completing certain tasks deemed essential.
  • Are considered on a case-by-case basis and determined by the UNE Student Access Center in consultation with SSW faculty through the University’s accommodations application process.

Continued Enrollment Requirements: 

  1. HIPPA: Students must be in compliance with UNE HIPAA requirements to attend practicum. 
  2. Background checks:Practicum sites may request background checks. Information obtained in background checks may inhibit students from completing generalist or advanced field practicums and thus may delay or hinder graduation. The university does not pay for these checks. 
  3. Drug Screening: Practicum sites may request drug screens. Information obtained in drug screens may inhibit students from completing generalist or advanced field practicums and thus may delay or hinder graduation. The university does not pay for these tests.
  4. Transportation: All students must provide their own transportation to practicum sites and interviews. Students must be willing to travel a reasonable distance for their practicum.
  5. Technology: Students enrolled in the online MSW program are required to comply with the Technology Requirements for Online Programs, as outlined here:  https://online.une.edu/online-learning/technical-requirements/

 

Questions?

If you have any questions about application requirements, the coursework or program requirements, please speak to one of our enrollment counselors at the email or phone number below.