'You Could Damage Somebody's Life': Student and Lecturer Perspectives on Commitment

A.J. Clements, G. Kinman, A. Guppy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Retention problems in the social work profession have been well documented. There is evidence that social workers experience a shorter working life compared to many other professional groups. Despite existing links between commitment to the job role and important work outcomes such as retention, few studies have investigated commitment in social work students. This study utilised qualitative data to examine this issue from the perspective of seven social work students and three lecturers. Aspects of commitment, as well as associated concepts such as perceptions of support and perspectives on the social work profession were explored. Commitment was primarily seen by students and lecturers as synonymous with dedication to the profession and its values. The extent and nature of support from a range of sources was seen as varying in quality, although peer support was generally seen in positive terms. It is suggested that interventions to enhance peer support have the potential to enhance student commitment and, consequently, retention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-104
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number1
Early online date23 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Work commitment
  • Higher Education
  • Students
  • Qualitative methods


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