A Study of Predictors of Success in Health Visiting and Social Work

  • K.A. Hack

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


With expanding courses of training for health visitors
and social workers, there is an urgent need to investigate the
predictors of success in these fields.

The present study was designed:
(a) to investigate cognitive and non-cognitive test
differences between health visitor and social work
(b) to devise a measure to facilitate the assessment of
practical work for the two groups; and
(c) to examine the relationship between a variety of
predictor measures and theoretical and practical criteria.

The subjects consisted of 88 health visitor students and
81 social work students who began their professional courses in
a college of further education in 1968 or 1969. At the
beginning of their courses a variety of cognitive and noncognitive
tests was administered to the students who also
answered a comprehensive questionnaire.

Two types of criteria were used. The first was based on
theoretical course and examination performance while the second
constituted an assessment of practical work in an agency. The
health visitors' practical ability was assessed one year after
completing their training and the social work students were
rated at the end of their two year course when they had completed
a six months' agency placement.

For the health visitors the most effective and
consistent predictors of the theoretical criterion were a
reading comprehension test and their school leaving qualifications.
The practical criterion proved difficult to predict, not one single variable correlating significantly and consistently
with it.

For the social workers the validities of the predictor
variables were generally higher. As with the health visitors,
the reading comprehension test and school leaving examinations
effectively predicted the theoretical criterion, but other
cognitive tests and a questionnaire measure were also
successful. Ability on the practical criterion was best
predicted by the measure of persistence.
Date of Award1971
Original languageEnglish


  • predictors of success
  • health visiting
  • social work

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