Building skills in psychiatric assessment through an online problem-based learning course


  • Jayme Swanke Southern Illinois University
  • Laura Dreuth Zeman Southern Illinois University



Clinical social workers use psychiatric assessment on most clients in the US. Insurance companies that pay for counseling need diagnoses on claim forms. Despite the need for diagnostic skills, a gap exists between education and practice. The Council on Social Work Education standards do not include competencies addressing psychiatric diagnosis. Consequently, not all programs offer students this training. This paper outlines an online Problem Based Learning (PBL) course in psychiatric diagnostic assessment for graduate social work students. It provides findings from an evaluation of the first two years a US public university offered the course online. The study provides an understanding of the learners’ experiences with online learning and their demonstration of skill in psychiatric assessment. It shows how one school of social work tried to fill the gap between education and practice related to diagnostic assessment.

Author Biographies

Jayme Swanke, Southern Illinois University

Assistant Professor and BSW Program Director, Dept of Social Work

Laura Dreuth Zeman, Southern Illinois University

Professor of Social Work and Women Studies


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How to Cite

Swanke, J., & Zeman, L. D. (2016). Building skills in psychiatric assessment through an online problem-based learning course. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 14(1), 6-18.