Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Interdisciplinary Health Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Frederick MacDonald

Second Advisor

Dr. Amy B. Curtis

Third Advisor

Dr. Earlie M. Washington


Knowledge of evidence-based practice (EBP) is essential to social workers entering the workforce. The literature review revealed no studies that have measured the knowledge students have of the steps of EBP in the final semester of their master's of social work (M.S.W.) degree programs.

The purpose of this study was to administer a newly validated instrument to graduating M.S.W. students to measure their knowledge of the steps of EBP. Eighty-six students in four schools in Michigan completed the instrument and scored a mean of 6.23 out of a possible score of 15. An ANOVA showed no statistically significant difference in mean scores between schools. Individual performance was graded on a percentage based grading scale using letter grades A through E. Seventy-five (87%) of the 86 students scored a grade of E (< 57% correct) on the instrument. Correlation analyses showed that students who took a course with EBP as a topic and those with higher GPAs scored higher on the instrument, but the majority still did not earn passing grades.

The study showed that M.S.W. students graduating in the winter (April/May) semester of 2009 did not perform well on a validated instrument to measure knowledge of the steps of EBP. These results indicate a need for attention to teaching the steps of EBP in M.S.W. programs. The results also provide preliminary evidence that integrating EBP into courses as a topic may be an effective strategy to increase the level of knowledge students have of the steps of EBP.

This research demonstrated a need for more instruction regarding EBP in graduate programs. It also contributed to the validation of an instrument to measure M.S.W. students' knowledge of the steps of EBP that can be used in the field. As M.S.W. programs integrate EBP into their curricula, it is important that they also measure the outcomes of students' learning to gather evidence regarding the effectiveness of the instruction and potential need for modification.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Social Work Commons