The In-class experience of social work students based on their political ideology

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Social Work Education The International Journal


The purpose of this quantitative study was to identify the relationship between the political ideology of social work students and their experience in social work classrooms. BSW and MSW students (n = 507) representing 30 accredited social work programs across the United States responded to a survey. Primary independent variables included respondents’ political philosophy, political party, and 2020 presidential vote. The survey contained Likert scale items assessing classroom experiences related to politics, which were combined into a composite score for each respondent to create the dependent variable, classroom experience (α" role="presentation" style="box-sizing: border-box; display: inline; line-height: normal; font-size: 18px; word-spacing: normal; word-wrap: normal; white-space: nowrap; float: none; direction: ltr; max-width: none; max-height: none; min-width: 0px; min-height: 0px; border: 0px; padding: 0px; margin: 0px; position: relative;">α� = 0.854). ANOVA was used to test the relationship between each of the three major independent variables and classroom experience, finding that students identifying as conservative (F(3, 98.5) = 34.9, p < .001), Republican (F(3,108) = 30.7, p < .001), and 2020 Trump voters (F(3,76.9) = 20.4, p < .001) were more likely to report negative experiences related to politics in the classroom. Hierarchical linear regression was used to identify predictive variables on classroom experience, revealing that the strongest predictor of negative experiences in the classroom was a student’s self-perception of their political ideology being incompatible with social work. Social work educators should consider cultivating classroom cultures founded on social work values and governed by principles of critical pedagogy to engage students with diverse political perspectives.