Pathfinder: School Social Work

The following Pathfinder helps you identify information about social work in school settings.

The Steps to Research and Writing a Paper offers more detailed information on researching your topic and writing.

1. Start by locating resources that provide an overview of your topic.

This will help you define terms in that discipline and provide background information in your subject area. Encyclopedias, handbooks and subject specific dictionaries offer good places to start.

Some titles specifically related to school social work are:

Allen-Meares, P. (Ed.). (2010). Social work services in schools (6th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Ammerman, R.T., & Hersen, M. (Eds.). (1997). Handbook of prevention and treatment with children and adolescents: Intervention in thereal world context. New York : John Wiley & Sons.

Bornstein, M. H. (Ed.). (2002).
Handbook of parenting
(2nd ed., Vols. 1-5). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bye, L., & Alvarez, M. (Eds.). (2007). School social work: Theory to practice. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Clark, J. P., & Alvarez, M. E. (Eds.). (2010). Response to intervention: A guide for school social workers. New York: Oxford University Press.

Cohen, J. J., & Fish, M. C. (1993). Handbook of school-based interventions: Resolving student problems and promoting healthy educational environments. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Franklin, C., Harris, M. B., & Allen-Meares, P. (Eds.). (2006). The school services sourcebook: A guide for school-based professionals. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Goldstein, A.P., & Conoley, J.C. (Eds.). (1997). School violence intervention: A practical handbook. New York: Guilford Press.

Jongsma, A. E., & Knapp, S. E. (2002). The school counseling and school social work treatment planner. New York: Wiley.

Malmquist, C.P. (1985).
Handbook of adolescence: Psychopathology, antisocial development,psychotherapy
. New York: J. Aronson.

Massat, C. R. (Ed.). (2009). School social work: Practice, policy, and research (7th ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.

Noshpitz, J. D. (Editor-in-chief). (1997-1998). Handbook of child and adolescent psychiatry (Vols. 1-7). New York: Wiley.

School Social Work Journal, & Massat, C. R. (Ed.). (2006). One hundred years of school social work: Past, present, and future 1906-2006. Lombard, IL: Lyceum Books. [MSASS NOTE: Also available as v. 30, no. 3, Summer 2006 in the bound journal: School Social Work Journal]

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2. Search the online catalog for additional books that will give you the history, context, definitions and theories.

Below are suggested keywords to use when searching for information. You can use them when searching the catalog or the research databases. Try combining them with another concept having to do with your subject:

  • Behavior management
  • Community schools
  • Counseling
  • Early intervention
  • High school
  • Middle school
  • Parent involvement
  • Partnership (partnership*)
  • Peer pressure
  • Preschool (preschool*)
  • School age
  • School linked services
  • School social work
  • Support groups
  • Teaching teams

Also, using these subject headings in the library catalog may improve your search results:


To find more subject headings related to education, the Thesaurus of ERIC descriptors provides a comprehensive list.

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3. Find some general articles on your topic.

After you have located books on your topic, start looking for general journal articles on your subject. Several general databases include:

  • Academic Search Complete
    Subjects: most academic topics
    Formats: journals, magazines, newspapers, books, book reviews
    Publication dates: 1887-present
  • LexisNexis Academic
    Subjects: news, law, business
    Formats: newspapers, wire services, broadcast transcripts, company profiles, court cases
    Publication dates: most are 1990s – present; court cases are 1789 – present
  • Article First (OCLC)
    Subjects: business, science, humanities, social sciences, medicine, technology, popular culture
    Formats: journal articles
    Publication dates: 1990 – present
  • Summon
    Subjects: interdisciplinary
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings, newspapers, images, databases and more available at CWRU
    Publication dates: Ongoing
  • TOPICsearch
    Subjects: current events, social, political and economic issues, scientific discoveries
    Formats: journal articles, magazine articles, biographies, book reviews, government information, public opinion polls, international newspapers
    Publication dates: 1990 – present

These databases are interdisciplinary and most provide a mix of popular magazine articles and scholarly research articles.

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4. Search subject specific databases for more scholarly journal articles.

After finding general journal articles on your topic, begin focusing on scholarly research articles. Citations, abstracts and, sometimes, the full-text of journal articles are found in a variety of research databases:

  • Education Research Complete
    Subjects: education
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings
    Publication dates: 1865 – present
  • ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
    Subjects: education
    Formats: journal articles, books, research syntheses, conference papers, technical reports, policy papers
    Publication dates: 1966-present
  • PsycINFO
    Subjects: psychology and related disciplines
    Formats: journal articles, books, dissertations
    Publication dates: 17th century – present
  • Social Work Abstracts
    Subjects: addictions, aging, child and family welfare, community organization, homelessness, human services, mental health, therapy
    Formats: journal articles
    Publication dates: 1965-present
  • SocINDEX
    Subjects: sociology, criminal justice, demography, ethnic and racial studies, gender studies, marriage and family, religion, social development, social psychology, social structure, social work, socio-cultural anthropology, substance abuse, violence
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings
    Publication dates: 1895-present

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5. Browse current issues of journals that contain literature on your topic.

Click here for a list of journals to which the MSASS Harris Library subscribes.

Journals that are most likely to contain information on the topic of school social work include:

Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal online at: OhioLINK. (Public catalog)

Children & Schools online at: E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Children and Youth Services Review online at: OhioLINK. (Public catalog)

Journal of Adolescence online at: OhioLINK. (Public catalog)

Journal of Child and Family Studies online at: OhioLINK. ( Public catalog)

Journal of Community Psychology online at: OhioLINK. (Public catalog)

Journal of Early Adolescence online at: OhioLINK. (Public catalog)

Journal of Research in Childhood Education online at: EBSCOhost Research Databases. (Public catalog)

School Social Work Journal online at: E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Social Work in Education online at: E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog) [Title changed to: Children & Schools]

Youth & Society online at: OhioLINK. E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Additional journals that cover general topics in sociology and social studies are available in
the Electronic Journal Center and the E-Journal Portal.

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6. Search online for additional information.

Information located through the Internet can provide supplemental material to scholarly research articles. Material retrieved from websites should always be evaluated for currency, authorship, bias and accuracy.

Herre are selected websites with information on school social work:

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7. Evaluate the information you have collected from books and articles.

Consult the bibliographies of the books and articles you have selected. This will lead you to additional references and authors to investigate. Make notes of the gaps in your literature so that you can use this information when you do additional searches. Click here for more information on evaluating the information you have collected.