Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Leslie H. Leighninger


Although an important aspect of any baccalaureate social work program is the inculcation of social work values, there has not been an abundance of studies in this area. Many of those that exist have been criticized for their methodology in measuring values. It is appropriate to examine that which has been termed the "fulcrum" of social work practice relative to the educational processes which purport to put that fulcrum in place. The purpose of this study was to compare BSW students in religiously-affiliated institutions of higher education with those in state-supported institutions on three dimensions: adherence to social work values, level of moral reasoning, and attitudes toward selected social issues and programs. Comparisons were made with the religiously-affiliated programs both aggregated and divided into three subgroups along a theologically liberal-conservative continuum. When the religiously-affiliated schools were aggregated, no significant differences were found between the two main groups in students, adherence to core social work values or level of moral reasoning. Some significant differences were seen in student attitudes on a number of social issues and programs, both when the religiously-affiliated programs were aggregated and when they were subgrouped. Those issues drawing the largest differences between the groups when the religious schools were aggregated were same-sex marriage, prayer in schools, helping the homeless, and the death penalty. Students in the state schools scored more "liberal" on the first two issues; students in the religious schools scored more liberal on the latter two. Other strong differences were found regarding labor unions, abortion, and civil rights for homosexuals, with students in state schools responding in a more liberal manner. Significant differences were found in core social work values when the state programs and those affiliated with theologically conservative religious groups were compared. Furthermore, it appears that students in the state programs and those in the religious programs do not all subscribe to the same foundation for ethical decision-making. The study also confirmed that social work values are inculcated through baccalaureate social work programs, and provided documentation of the usefulness of the new Social Work Values Inventory.