A study performed by four Niagara University professors regarding undergraduate students' perceptions of those living in poverty has been published in the Journal of Research on Social Work Practice.
Research on Social Work Practice, published bimonthly, is a disciplinary journal devoted to the publication of empirical research concerning the assessment methods and outcomes of social work practice.
"Validation of a Tool to Assess and Track Undergraduate Attitudes Toward Those Living in Poverty," an article by doctors Kevin Blair (social work), Marlo Brown (mathematics), Todd Schoepflin (sociology) and David Taylor (criminal justice), builds upon the concepts of a lack of social empathy and cognitive distancing as principal reasons why people fail to do more to help the poor via either direct action or support for programs that will aid the poor.
The Undergraduate Perceptions of Poverty Tracking Survey is also intended to serve as a guide for social workers and educators to inform their poverty instruction efforts and track the progress of those endeavors with undergraduate students.
Methodology included collecting and analyzing data from 301 Niagara University students, using exploratory factor analysis augmented by random qualitative validation.
The resulting survey contains 39 questions and has six factors that meet empirical standards for validity and reliability, including undergraduates' perceptions in three key areas: (1) general attitudes toward those living in poverty, including a sense of the students' underlying explanation for why someone may be poor; (2) understanding of and empathy for those living in poverty; and (3) commitment to addressing poverty via direct action or support for programs/services that aid those in poverty.
The article was published in September and became available online in March. It can be read here until June 15.
Since then, Blair has received communications from faculty at Elon, Butler and Gannon universities, as well as a university in Australia, informing him they are using the UPPTS to assess the impact of their efforts in undergraduate poverty education. In addition, two doctoral students plan to use the survey in their dissertation projects.
Blair will present on the topic of assessment in undergraduate poverty education during a conference sponsored by the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty at Millsaps College in June.
The Niagara University professors plan to soon begin the next phase of the project, which will undertake a larger confirmatory factor analysis using data from schools from throughout the U.S.
To learn more about the Journal of Research on Social Work Practice, visit rsw.sagepub.com.
For more information, contact Blair at 716-286-8516 or [email protected].