Higher Education

Decision Cases for Generalist Social Work Practice: Thinking Like a Social Worker, 1st Edition

  • T. Laine Scales Baylor University
  • Terry A. Wolfer University of South Carolina, Columbia
  • ISBN-10: 0534521940  |  ISBN-13: 9780534521943
  • 208 Pages
  • © 2006 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $72.75



This collection of cases provides social work students with opportunities to practice thinking like social work professionals. These accounts, referred to as decision cases, depict actual situations encountered by BSW-level generalist social workers across a variety of practice settings in their work with individuals, families, groups, organizations, or communities. Sure to stimulate in-depth class discussions, these detailed, open-ended cases urge students to decide on the central problem and recommend a course of action. The resulting case analyses and class discussions help students develop important problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, internalize social work values and ethics, and apply theory to practice. Through the "decision case" approach, students adopt attitudes and skills that are considered essential for effective social work practice, yet difficult to teach in the traditional curriculum. As they discuss their perspectives on these cases, students learn to articulate and defend their positions, to listen more effectively, and to develop skills in, and appreciation for, collaborative problem-solving.

Table of Contents

1. To the Student: An Introduction to Decision Cases and Case Method Learning.
2. Tips for Preparing and Discussing Decision Cases.
1. Threat to Society?
2. Twice a Victim.
3. I Can't Find Her!
4. I Must Advocate for My Client!
5. Carla Fights the System.
6. This Could Get Messy.
7. In Need of Support.
8. Discharge Dilemma.
9. The Ridge.
10. If Only�
11. Finding Our Way.
12. The Ideal Client.

Efficacy and Outcomes


"The case studies in this text give the students real situations with enough information and context to grapple with decision making and application of the code of ethics and theoretical constructs presented in our courses."

— Margaret Elbow, Texas Tech University

"I will certainly adopt the text .... I tend to use the approach with disguised cases from my own practice, purely hypothetical situations, or even literature. The situations in this manuscript address all levels of practice in addition to fields of practice which greatly expands what I offer based on my own practice experience."

— Margaret Elbow, Texas Tech University

"The case situations are creative and raise multiple issues related to a variety of practice situations. Though I have used a variation of this teaching method, the cases used were made up and provided much less detail. I would like to see more texts that use open-ended case method examples to enhance decision making and critical thinking skills. I am excited to try this some of these case examples and the case method approach in the classroom."

— Laura Parker, Columbia College

"I would tell a colleague that the decision-making, case method approach to teaching was superior to other case examples that told students what to think/how to think about various situations. I would argue that this method of teaching was much needed in the curriuculum and of its potential value in assisting students to develop good critical and collaborative thinking skills. There is also the creative potential (by assigning individual cases) to use these cases to develop skills in the effective use of supervision. I would argue that this valuable text could and should be used as a supplement in more than one course in the social work curriculum."

— Laura Parker, Columbia College


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the main title. Select the main title's "About" tab, then select "What's New" for updates specific to title's edition.

For more information about these supplements, or to obtain them, contact your Learning Consultant.

Instructor Supplements

eBank Instructor's Manual  (ISBN-10: 0534521959 | ISBN-13: 9780534521950)

The Instructor's Manual (available via e-mail to adopting instructors) includes general and case-specific instructions for teaching with Scales and Wolfer's book. General instructions for using the case method of teaching include how to prepare for a case discussion, how to lead a case discussion, anticipating and handling specific discussion problems, cultural diversity in case discussions, and possible activities to supplement case discussions. Extensive teaching notes for each case include a case synopsis, content courses for which the case could be used, possible learning outcomes, possible discussion questions and responses (organized in four categories: fact, analysis, action, and reflection), suggested activities or assignments to supplement the class discussion, and print and electronic resources for further information. Though the teaching notes provide detailed guidance appropriate for novice teachers, even experienced case method instructors will benefit from the notes for cases drawn from practice areas with which they are less familiar.

InfoTrac® College Edition Printed Access Card  (ISBN-10: 0534558534 | ISBN-13: 9780534558536)

This online research and learning center offers over 20 million full-text articles from nearly 6,000 scholarly and popular periodicals. The articles cover a broad spectrum of disciplines and topics--ideal for every type of researcher. Learn more at www.cengage.com/infotrac. (Access code/card required).

List Price = $32.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $24.00

Student Supplements

InfoTrac® College Edition Printed Access Card  (ISBN-10: 0534558534 | ISBN-13: 9780534558536)

Save time, save money, and eliminate the trek to the library and long waits for reserved readings with InfoTrac® College Edition, an online university library of more than 5,000 academic and popular magazines, newspapers, and journals.

List Price = $32.00  | College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $24.00

Meet the Author

Author Bio

T. Laine Scales

T. Laine Scales is Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Professional Development and Professor of Higher Education at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. She served for 12 years as a faculty member in social work at Baylor University and Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas, where she taught human behavior with individuals, groups, communities, and organizations. Dr. Scales has published in the areas of social welfare history, spirituality and religion in social work, and rural social work. She has authored, edited, or co-edited seven books, including ALL THAT FITS A WOMAN: TRAINING SOUTHERN BAPTIST WOMEN FOR CHARITY AND MISSION, 1907-1926 (Mercer University Press, 2000), SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGION IN SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE: DECISION CASES WITH TEACHING NOTES (Council on Social Work Education, 2002), RURAL SOCIAL WORK: ASSET-BUILDING TO SUSTAIN RURAL COMMUNITIES (Brooks/Cole, 2004), and DECISION CASES FOR GENERALIST PRACTICE: THINKING LIKE A SOCIAL WORKER (Thomson, 2006). Dr. Scales earned her BA at the University of North Carolina, her MSW at the Carver School of Church Social Work, Louisville, KY, and her PhD at the University of Kentucky.

Terry A. Wolfer

Dr. Terry A. Wolfer is an Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. His research interests include faith-based social services, case method teaching, and violence and trauma. He has written numerous articles and has co-edited DECISION CASES FOR GENERALIST SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE and DECISION CASES FOR ADVANCED SOCIAL WORK PRACTICE published by Thomson Brooks/Cole.