Creating a Bridging Environment:
The Screening-in Process in BSW Programs
Robert G. Madden
Social work educators have long understood their responsibilities to ensure that graduates are competent to practice social work (Feldstein 1972; Reynolds 1942). Gatekeeping is the term used to describe this duty, which has included the development of assessment and evaluation strategies at various points in the students' professional development. The ultimate goals of gatekeeping are quality control, program integrity, and protection of those seeking services from graduates. Many of the discussions and articles on this topic over the last several years have focused on the need to tighten our gatekeeping, with a heavy emphasis on more rigorous admissions screening (Hepler and Noble 1990; Moore and Urwin 1991). This chapter will argue for a process that screens in students applying to a social work program. Built on a foundation of respecting student rights, valuing the diversity of the profession, and enabling human development, screening-in fulfills the responsibility of guarding the door to the profession while acting in consonance with our professional identity.
The recent debate over the admissions stage of gatekeeping has been difficult to follow due to the variety of experiences and needs of BSW programs. In some schools, the number of students seeking entry into the social work major far exceeds the number of slots available. In these programs, criteria have had to be developed to help in admissions decisions. Most of the criteria are