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North Idaho College • Coeur d'Alene • Social & Behavioral Sciences • Social Worker Program

Introduction to Social Work SOWK-240

  • Fall 2012
  • Section 02
  • 3.0 Credits
  • 08/27/2012 to 12/20/2012
  • Modified 09/04/2012

Contact Information

email and voicemail checked each weekday before noon

Adjunct Instructor: Serena Smith LMSW

  • Email: [email protected]
  • Office: Molstead Library (CDA Campus) 209-E
  • Phone: leave a message at 208-625-2305

Meeting Times

Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC)

  • Friday, 9:00 AM to 11:45 AM, MHS 117 to Silver Valley Center


This course presents a survey of social welfare and human service programs in the United States as a response to problems and needs within our society. Issues relating to historical and contemporary social service institutions and their place in both an ethical and public context are examined. The course begins the professional foundation for social work. Lecture: 3 hours per week


Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare: Critical Thinking Perspectives

  • Author: Karen K. Kirst-Ashman
  • Publisher: Brooks/Cole
  • Edition: 3rd
  • ISBN: 978-0-495-60168-5


SOWK 240


EPAS Competencies and Practice Behaviors (Expected learning Outcomes) Met in Course

The Council on social Work Education sets educational standards for all accredited social work programs. The 2008 Educational and Policy Accreditation Standard (EPAS) established 10 Core Competencies and 41 Practice Behaviors that social work students are expected to meet upon graduation from an accredited BSW Program. Professional Social Work Education is competency based education.

Education Policy 2.1 – Core Competencies

Competency-based education is an outcome performance approach to curriculum design. Competencies are measurable practice behaviors that are comprised of knowledge, values, and skills. The goal of the outcome approach is to demonstrate the integration and application of the competencies in practice with individuals, families, groups, organizations and communities.

Below are the Core Competencies and Practice Behaviors that are addressed in this course. Please note that the Practice Behaviors are linked to the Course Objectives and Assignments.

2.1.1 – Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly

D. Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and communication

2.1.2 – Apply social work ethical principles to guide professional practice

A. Recognize and manage personal values in a way that allows professional values to guide practice

2.1.3 – Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgments

C. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication in working with individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities, and colleagues

2.1.4 – Engage diversity and difference in practice

A. Recognize the extent to which a culture’s structures and values may oppress, marginalize, alienate, or create or enhance privilege and power

2.1.5 – Advance human rights and social and economic justice

A. Understand the forms and mechanisms of oppression and discrimination


Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

A. Demonstrate a beginning knowledge of social welfare history; EPAS 2.1.1D

B. Explore and describe the process of helping by participating in a volunteer experience;

EPAS 2.1.3C

C. Evaluate personal values, beliefs, and life experiences that inform the ways that you construct knowledge and make meaning in life; EPAS 2.1.2A

D. Acquire knowledge that will allow for an opportunity to self-assess if social work or related human services field are a potential option for the student; EPAS 2.1 1D

E. Understand and describe generalist social work practice, the nature of social work education at the baccalaureate level, and the relationship of the BSW practitioner to other levels of professional practice; EPAS 2.1.1D

F. Acquire a basic understanding of generalist social work practice, including awareness and appreciation of essential knowledge, values and skills of the profession; EPAS 2.1.1D

G. Identify the steps of the planned change model and how it can be used in practice at the micro, mezzo and macro levels; EPAS 2.1.2D

H. Explore a framework for understanding and evaluating the social welfare system; EPAS 2.1.2D

I. Understand the importance of social justice, strengths based practice, client empowerment, and cultural competence in social work practice; EPAS 2.1.5A

J. Understand the various roles of the social work profession in promoting social and economic justice and working toward eliminating oppression at all levels of the environment; EPAS 2.1.4A

K. Understand the various types of client populations and the context in which social workers provide service to these client populations; EPAS 2.1.3C

L. Understand the various dimensions of human diversity; EPAS 2.1.4A

M. Acquire a basic understanding of the uses of research in the social work profession; EPAS 2.1.3C

N. Contribute as a group member in group exercises and class discussions; EPAS 2.1.1D

O. Demonstrate good oral and written skills through class assignments; EPAS 2.1.



How you’ll demonstrate what you’re learning



APA Style Exercises (100 points) Handed out in class week 5, due back week 7

These exercises are designed to help you become comfortable with the mechanics of writing in APA style, the style used in social work and most other social sciences.

Advocacy Letter (100 points) Topics assigned week 7, letter due week 9

You will write an imaginary letter to a real member of your congressional delegation asking for their vote on an imaginary bill. The format and topic will be provided in class and on Blackboard. Be sure to proofread carefully—most of the points will be based on whether this letter could be sent if you chose to do so.

Volunteer Experience Paper (100 points) Due week 15 (accepted earlier)

This assignment has two parts, each worth 50 points:

Part I: A one-page summary of your 15 hours of volunteer experience this semester, including but not limited to:

  • a description of the agency (population served, size of staff, location, structure, etc.)
  • a list of your particular volunteer job duties
  • how this experience has impacted your career decision-making process (that is, would you like to do this kind of work for pay?)

Part II: A simple statement of hours worked, signed by your supervisor at the volunteer site, on agency letterhead. No signature, no 50 points. No letterhead, no 50 points.

Response Papers (weekly, 100 points)

You’ll be reading a chapter each week out of the textbook. For 10 of the first 12 chapters, turn in a one-page reflection on some topic you found to be of interest in that chapter. The reflection can be handwritten or typed. Some ideas to help you get started:

  • I used to think ______________, but after I read the section in the chapter about it I’ve begun to wonder if __________________.
  • I didn’t know that ______________________.
  • It makes me (angry, sad, happy) that ________________.

Academic and Professional Writing (200 points)

There will be two in-class writing assignments to familiarize you with how to organize your thoughts in academic and professional writing. Dates TBA.


Exams will be given at the beginning of the class on the day indicated on the class schedule. They will take 30-40 minutes and will be followed by the lecture for that day’s chapter. Exams will be in a closed book, multiple choice and short answer format. No make-up exams will be given, and no extra time will be given for late arrivals. Each exam will focus on the chapters indicated, but may include material from earlier exams.


Although no points are given for attendance, students must attend all class meetings. Your signature on the sign-in sheet will be proof of your attendance. Upon the 3rd absence, the final grade will be dropped one letter grade (A to B, B to C, etc). This is a departmental policy. You don’t need to contact me if you’ll be absent. Please get class notes from a classmate. Handouts and PowerPoint slides will be posted on Blackboard.


4 Exams

400 points

6 Written Assignments

600 points


1000 points





950-1000 points


900-949 points


860-899 points


830-859 points


800-829 points


760-799 points


730-759 points


700-729 points


600-699 points


<600 points


NOTE: You must earn a B- in this class to be admitted to the BSW program at LCSC



Course Policies

All work must be your own.
Cell phones are not to be seen or heard.
No late assignments.
No make-up exams.
In classroom discussions, be respectful of your colleagues as you would a client. Use active listening skills, and limit your contributions to 3 sentences each, 3 times in a discussion. Don't dominate or spectate. Your contribution is as important as anyone else's--not more and not less. The purpose of classroom and small group discuss is to learn from each other


Subject to change with notice from instructor

Aug 31 Week 1 Course expectations, grading, and assignments. Define and discuss social work, social welfare, and critical thinking; residual vs. institutional models of social welfare; medical model vs. ecological perspective; liberal/conservative/radical continuum, professional writing

Sept 7 Week 2 Brainstorm volunteer service ideas. SW careers, degrees, competencies and disposition

Sept 14 Week 3 Take home syllabus quiz due. SW professional values and ethics; personal application

Sept 21 Week 4 Social and economic justice; empowerment and the strengths perspective; resiliency; cultural competence in SW practice

Sept 28 Week 5 Exam 1 over chapters 1-3 Generalist practice definition and discussion; micro/mezzo/ macro practice; assess our community for strengths; assign advocacy letter topics

Oct 5 Week 6 Planned-change process

Oct 12 Week 7 APA Style Exercises due History of social welfare policy and SW in the United States, including European roots

Oct 19 Week 8 Exam 2 over chapters 4-6 Film and discussion

Oct 26 Week 9 Advocacy Letter due; discuss findings of advocacy research; how social welfare policies are developed; SW policy practice and policy advocacy; facts and figures on domestic and global poverty; definition of terms; causes and consequences of poverty; personal and professional application; social insurance and public assistance policy; stereotypes of recipients

Nov 2 Week 10 Services for families and children; child protection and Intensive Family Preservation programs; foster care and adoption; advocacy in child and family services

Nov 9 Week 11 Exam 3 over chapters 7-9; services for persons with addictions; definition of terms; four-stage recovery and harm reduction treatment models

Nov 16 Week 12 Facts and figures on prevalence of disability in the US; connections between disability status and poverty and/or minority status; SW role with persons with disabilities; empowerment, advocacy, and self-determination in SW with persons with disabilities; the Americans with Disabilities Act and self-advocacy


Nov 30 Week 13 SW services to persons with mental illness; facts, figures and stereotypes; types of mental illnesses; limitations of the DSM-IVTR; micro/mezzo/macro practice with persons with mental illness; managed care and advocacy; cultural competence in counseling services

Dec 7 Week 14 Volunteer paper due; discuss experiences. Additional topics such as SW services with older adults: poverty, illness and disability in old age, strengths and empowerment for elders; health care policy; AIDS; international social work; school social work; at-risk teens; SW and the criminal justice system: race, gender and socio-economic factors, punishment vs. rehabilitation, gangs; personal perspectives and critical thinking

Dec 14 Week 15 Course wrap-up and prep for final. Instructor evaluations

FINALS WEEK: Final exam, comprehensive, date and time TBA


Additional Items

Division Policies

For a complete explanation of the North Idaho College Statement on Academic Honesty & Academic Integrity please ferfer to Policy 5.06 & Procedure 5.06.01: 

Academic Dishonesty
Violations of academic integrity involve using or attempting to use any method that enables an individual to misrepresent the quality or integrity of his or her work at North Idaho College. These violations include the following:

Cheating: using or attempting to use unauthorized materials, information, or study in any academic exercise.
Fabrication: falsifying or inventing any information or citation in an academic exercise.
Plagiarism: knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own in an academic exercise.
Violation of Intellectual Property: stealing, altering, or destroying the academic work of other members of the community or the educational resources,materials, or official documents of the college. Facilitating Academic Dishonesty: knowingly helping another to attempt to violate any provisions of this policy.

Student Responsibility
As outlined in the Student Code of Conduct, all North Idaho College students have both rights and responsibilities: Please access www.nic.ferpa.StudentCode/index.htm for complete information that pertains to this subject.

North Idaho College, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, provides both services and accommodations to students who meet the guidelines provided in these acts.  For a complete description, please see:

Please contact the North Idaho College Center for Educational Access in Seiter Hall, Room 100 for assistance.  Phone:  208-769-5947

To withdraw from all courses a student must obtain a college withdrawal form from the Registrar's Office, secure the signatures of those persons indicated on the form, and return the form to the Registrar's office. No student may withdraw from the college after the final date of withdrawal from courses except for compelling and extraordinary reasons. In such circumstances a student must petition the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee for late withdrawal from college using the college withdrawal form available in the Registrar's Office.


For complete information regarding student withdrawals, please see the North Idaho College Policy 5.04.01: 

Institutional Policies

Student Code of Conduct

The Student Code of Conduct applies to any student enrolled at North Idaho College.  This includes, but is not limited to, face-to-face classes and Internet classes.

Student Responsibilities

As students undertake to fulfill the obligations and duties outlined in this document, the college community of which they are a part undertakes to respect the basic freedoms of students. In recognition of students’ rights and dignity as members of the college, North Idaho College is committed to the principles found in the NIC Student Handbook.

Center for Educational Access/Disability Support Services

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and Section 504/508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, North Idaho College provides accommodations to eligible students who experience barriers in the educational setting due to learning, emotional / mental, physical, visual, or hearing disabilities.  Instructors will provide accommodations to students only after having received a Letter of Accommodation from the Center for Educational Access. 

If a student would like to request accommodations, he or she must contact the Center for Educational Access so that a Letter of Accommodation may be sent to the instructor.  Students requesting accommodations must contact the Center for Educational Access at the beginning of each semester.


By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You also understand that collection costs and legal fees will be added if the services of a collection agency are utilized.

If you are registered for a class and do not attend, you will still be liable for the tuition unless you drop the class.


Last day for students to withdraw from semester-length classes:

Instructor-Initiated Withdrawal: Instructors have the right to withdraw students for academic reasons up until the same date; in doing so, instructors must notify students through NIC e-mail within 48 hours of submitting documentation to the Registrar's office, and students have the right to appeal the instructor's decision. For more information, see the NIC Procedure:

Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy: All withdrawals, whether for individual classes, total withdrawal from school, or instructor-initiated are not considered to be satisfactory progress for financial aid.  See the Financial Aid Satisfactory Progress Policy:

Additional withdrawal information:


An incomplete is assigned only if the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work to within three weeks of the end of the semester (or proportional length of time for a course of less than a semester in length).  Incompletes are issued only in cases of extenuating circumstances, such as severe illness or injury.  Incompletes are not issued in cases in which the student is simply unable to complete his/her work within the specified semester or session.  If a final grade of "I" is recorded, the instructor will indicate in writing to the Registrar what the student must do to make up the deficiency.  The instructor will indicate in the written statement what permanent grade should be entered if the Incomplete is not removed by the deadline.

All incomplete grades must be removed within six weeks after the first class day of the following term, excluding the summer session.  If the Incomplete is not removed by that date, the grade reverts to the grade indicated by the instructor's written statement authorizing the incomplete.

Discrimination and Harassment

North Idaho College has a zero tolerance policy for any acts of discrimination or harassment of any kind.  For more information, please see the NIC Student Handbook, Code of Conduct Article III and Article VIII. Compliance efforts with respect to these laws and regulations are the responsibility of each member of the campus community and are under the direction of the Dean of Students Office for Student Issues (2nd floor, Edminster Student Union Building, (208) 676-7156) and the Human Resources Office (Sherman Administration Building, (208) 769-3304) for employee issues.

Institutional Statement

DROP FOR NON-PAYMENT:  By registering at North Idaho College, you agree to provide payment by the due dates. You will be dropped from classes if payment is not received by  5 p.m. Pacific Time on the third day of the semester. Students on the waitlist will be given the option to register for classes after students are dropped for non-payment.

REMOVAL FROM CLASS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE:  Attendance is based on your participation in this class. Failure to attend may result in your being removed from this class and may result in your financial aid award being reduced. You are responsible for confirming the accuracy of your attendance record.