Taking Advantage of the Opportunities
Caitlin Yore MSW ’20, Jenna White MSW ’19, Sheryl Coyle MSW ’20
Three recent MSW graduates took their learning and professional growth to new levels through the research they conducted under Dr. Kevin Tan.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make all the difference.
Like taking advantage of the many research opportunities afforded by the School of Social Work.
“It’s one thing to be in the school concentration and doing your internship, but the research I took part in pushed me to think that maybe I’ll go back and get a PhD,” says Caitlin Yore MSW ’20, who now is a social worker in a school on the south side of Chicago. “I got to not just build clinical skills, but to build skills that have given me confidence at running data team meetings and analyzing our school-wide data.”
Yore was part of Dr. Kevin Tan’s research team that studied the social-emotional learning needs among high school students. Yore and Jenna White MSW ’19 staged a poster presentation of their research for the 2019 School Social Work Association of America national conference in Orlando, Florida. Sheryl Coyle MSW ’20, also a part of Tan’s research team, volunteered at the conference.
“We were looking at different social skills as well as problem behaviors, like externalizing and internalizing behaviors,” White says. “We screened primarily at the ninth-grade level to see where the students were. And we did a teacher version of the same assessment and compared how students rated themselves to how the teachers rated the students. Then we compared those assessments to how they correlated to the students’ grade-point averages, their discipline referrals, and their attendance.”
The research brought another dimension of learning to Coyle. “It helped me connect what I was learning in class to what I would be doing,” she says. “It also gave me a greater connection with my professors and Dr. Tan, and with my classmates as well. I was more successful in my studies and my learning because I learned from Dr. Tan’s experience and research. That equipped me for my job this year for sure.” Coyle and White both work in the Danville school district.
“Our research brings to light the importance of getting that good assessment and that good data to be able to see how we can best intervene with students,” White says.
“We learned how social-emotional learning really does impact academics, and from an advocacy standpoint, we got to see firsthand that this makes a difference in students’ own regulation abilities and social skills,” Yore adds. “So, it helps us as we talk to other people about why social-emotional learning should be emphasized in schools.”
Yore says being part of Tan’s research team was extremely valuable to her professional growth. “And in terms of the School in general, there are so many opportunities to get involved in research,” she says. “The professors really care about you and want you to have the best experience you can have. They’re unbelievably intelligent and doing some extremely important work in the field, and they’re so passionate about what they do and about instilling that passion into future social workers. There’s no way you can walk out of the program and not have such a passion for social work.
“It was like, why would I not take advantage of that?”