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Title: Assessing the attitude and behaviour of social work students towards social justice
Author(s): Chu, Cheong Hay 
Lam, Chiu Wan 
Yeung, Leo Yee Yu 
Issue Date: 2019
Conference: 15th Anniversary International Conference, Felizberta Lo Padilla Tong School of Social Sciences, Caritas Institute of Higher Education 
Social justice is one of the core values of social work. The global definition for social work by International Federation of Social Work states clearly that the ‘Principles of social justice,… are central to social work’. Social work students are expected to share and uphold this core value. However, while there are frequent discussions over how social justice should be taught and included in the curriculum, there are few local researches studying on the extent social work students share the value of social justice and the way it is realized in their daily lives. Based on the theory of Ajzen (1991) on planned behavior, Torees-Harding, Siers and Olson (2012) have developed a Social Justice Scale (SJS) which is used to measure the attitudes and behaviours towards social justice. Using the SJS as the framework, we conducted an exploratory study to learn about the attitudes and behavior of social work degree students in one local training institute towards social justice.

This study is the initiation of a development of the Chinese Version of the SJS. After the research team translated the SJS items, backward translation was conducted to check the consistency. The translation was completed by final editing of the Chinese characters for each item. In addition, based on the experiences of the research team, questions were developed to assess the respondents’ participation in social work related activities and their commitment towards social work values. Moreover, it is postulated that students who have high selfesteem would have higher SJS scores which will be manifested by their scores in the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Chinese version, 1998). This exploratory study was conducted in March and April of this year and there were 157 social work students completed the study.

Preliminary results indicate that students scored high in the SJS. Relatively, the sub-score in social justice attitude was the highest, the sub-scores in the perceived behaviour control around social justice; subjective norms around social justice; and intention to engage in social justice were modestly high. Respondents also got high scores in their participation in social work related activities and belief in social work values. The finding also indicates that the score of the SJS related to the participation of students in social work behaviour and to their belief in social work values. However, the preliminary analysis does not indicate that the SJS score is related to the students’ religious background or to their level of self-esteem.

The preliminary result of the study shows that the SJS scores of the respondents are encouraging. They have a relatively higher score in their attitude towards social justice than their social justice related behaviour. While this is understandable, further support to encourage students to engage in social justice action should be considered. The strengthening of the ability of students to take social justice action and the creation of a facilitating environment should be considered. Conduction of similar study for more students and also with different background have to be made as the number of participants of the current study is confined to a small population and one training institute.
CIHE Affiliated Publication: Yes
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