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Danielle Kelley
Danielle Kelley

Tammy Stewart
Tammy Stewart

Kelley, Stewart Shine in Independent Study Projects

Posted Jan. 23, 2012
Reported by Molly Berg

Contact Emily Williams


New national accreditation standards have brought about changes in the way social workers are prepared for competent practice and field education has been adopted as the signature pedagogy in training social workers of the future.  Two social work students found a way to bring their field experience back to the classroom, benefiting their education and a local agency.

Tammy Stewart and Danielle Kelley, both B.S.W. students last year in Professor Michael Holosko’s “Social Work Research” course, took their assignment to the next level after being asked to perform a research study for their field placement agencies. Their respective field instructors identified an area of interest and the students drafted a proposal to complete the research. Stewart and Kelley not only followed through with the idea, but drafted what Holosko called “top notch empirical reports.” 

Kelley, now an MSW student, was completing her B.S.W. last year when she was in her field placement at Hope Haven of Northeast Georgia. During her time there, Kelley conducted a study on perceived training needs for staff. The result was her research study “Assessing the Training Needs of Direct Support Professionals in an Agency in Athens, GA.”  Kelley, a native of Augusta, created a survey for fellow staff members to complete in order to collect data and obtain results. Before she could conduct the survey, she had to get certification from UGA’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) because she was using human subjects.

Kelley’s findings proved very useful for the director of Hope Haven.  It showed areas the agency could improve on, the best kinds of instruction to use and how training could affect the agency. “This study has significantly enhanced my skill set, as well as my feelings of competence. I feel that it has equipped me with the tools to go into the field and take a proactive role in conducting research that can benefit agencies as well as my future clients.” Kelley said.

Now that the study is over, Kelley hopes to do similar work later on. She says that in the future, she hopes to own a private practice and “utilize the skills and knowledge that I have attained from my research experience to further enable me to be the most competent and proficient social worker that I can be.”

Stewart, also a current MSW student, was working at BJC Medical Facility when she conducted her research project. After going to the CEO of the facility, she decided to find out the need for social workers in hospitals.  Like Kelley, Stewart also had to pass the IRB in order to provide a survey for the employees of the hospital.

The survey addressed the needs of patients and staff, as well as the perceived obstacles the facility faced while dealing with social services.

Her final results showed that there was a significant need for social workers in the hospital. The hospital was thankful for Stewart’s efforts in the study.  ”Key administrators of the hospital were impressed with the amount of information I provided to them.  The CFO was completely thinking of the financials which I understood and I tried to address that in my report.  It was hard because so much of what hospital social workers do cannot be quantified on a revenue report,” Stewart said.

Now that her study is over, Stewart who hails from Winder, continues to pursue a career providing care for veterans and their families.

After their research projects, both Kelley and Stewart felt grateful for their assignment and Holosko’s instruction. “If it weren’t for him pushing and believing in me, I am not sure if I would have ever known that I could be a successful researcher. I will forever be appreciative for his unyielding dedication and support,” Kelley said.