Welcome to the Fall 2013 issue of the Field Educator! We are entering our third year with a growing list of readers and subscribers. With the launch of this new issue, we are pleased to announce the winner of the 2013 Excellence in Field Scholarship Award: Robin Ringstad of California State University, Stanislaus. Dr. Ringstad’s article, “Competency level versus level of competency: The field evaluation dilemma,” opens the Field Scholar section.
The Field Educator, an online journal produced by the Simmons School of Social Work, promotes knowledge exchange among the social work field education community.
The Simmons School of Social Work and the Field Educator sponsor an annual award to promote excellence in field education scholarship. A $1,000 prize will be awarded for an outstanding paper on social work field education. The winning paper will be announced at the 2014 Annual Program Meeting (APM) of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and will be published in the Fall or Spring issue of the Field Educator. All entries must meet the submission guidelines for the Field Scholar section of the Field Educator.
The Field Scholar is the section of the Field Educator devoted to the publication of formal, scholarly articles on theory and research in field education. Field Scholar is issuing a call for theory and research papers on a variety of subjects. These subjects include best practices in field instruction, measures of competencies in field, school-agency collaborations and innovative approaches to challenges in field education. These articles will be reviewed for rigor and relevance by members of a panel of noted field educators from the US and abroad; the list of consulting editors can be found in About Us.
Abstract: This study examines the use of a competency-based scoring rubric to measure students’ field practicum performance and competency development. Rubrics were used to complete mid-year and final evaluations for 56 MSW students in their foundation field practicum. Results indicate that students scored higher than expected on competency development measures, appearing to provide evidence of good overall program outcomes in terms of competency levels achieved by students. Results also appear to provide evidence of grade inflation by field instructors, however, calling into question whether students have actually gained adequate skills to engage in competent social work practice.
Abstract: In both the classroom setting and field practicum, social work students begin to develop competence in practice with diverse populations. Field instructors play a critical role in educating students on diversity issues and preparing students to practice without bias. A cross-sectional study was conducted to better understand social attitudes of field instructors participating in a Seminar in Field Instructor (SIFI) training (N=88). The field instructors had generally positive attitudes. Results indicated that field instructors’ comfort level and demographic variables were predictors of social attitudes. Implications for social work field instruction are discussed.
Empowering students to promote social justice: A qualitative study of field instructors’ perceptions and strategies
Abstract: This qualitative study examines field instructors’ perceptions of social work practice that promotes social justice. The author conducted 17 in-depth interviews with qualified field instructors using grounded theory methods to elicit perceptions of the meaning of social justice among field instructors and pedagogical strategies related to empowering students in the promotion of social justice. Findings reflect field instruction goals and tasks based on the lived experiences of social work practitioners providing the practicum experience. This study offers a framework for social work field instruction that employs exposure to diverse clients and manifestations of injustice, focused discussion, and role modeling as educational strategies. It also provides a theoretical frame, rooted in empowerment, for field instruction that centers on student values socialization, validation through experience, building critical thinking skills, and emphasis on the reflexive action.
The Behavior Change Project: A Field Assignment in Empathy Building, Self-Awareness, and Direct Clinical Practice
Abstract: The author describes the use of a behavior change project implemented in a social work field seminar at the University of Memphis. Students select one of their own behaviors to change and implement an empirical study of their progress in changing the behavior. The project provides the students with an opportunity to put themselves in the client’s place in a way that also assists them with understanding direct practice and evaluating clinical outcomes.
The following is an address that was delivered by Dr. Nai Ming Tsang, a leading Chinese field educator, to a group of approximately 45 social work field instructors at the Department of Applied Social Sciences (APSS) at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. —Editor’s note.
Abstract: Simmons School of Social Work inaugurated a remote field review during the spring of 2012 to replace one traditional face-to-face (F2F) field visit. The field education department surveyed its field instructors and liaisons and some students to ascertain their response to this change; this article reports the findings of these surveys.
Abstract: This paper describes collaboration between advanced-year MSW students and field agencies of the North Carolina State University Department of Social Work. In an evaluation research course, students work with field instructors to design an evaluation research proposal. During a second course, the students conduct the evaluation and present a final report. This article describes the project, including guidelines for design and implementation of the proposal, protection of client rights through the Institutional Review Board, and facing challenges.
Abstract: Over a million Guatemalans have immigrated to the United States; they are the sixth largest Hispanic group in the country (Motel & Patten, 2012). This article seeks to provide a background for social work students so that they can be culturally competent in engaging with Guatemalan clients. The author examines the violence and poverty that drive Guatemalans to emigrate, as well as the pressures and trauma of immigration into the U.S.A. and the unique strengths of Guatemalan culture, including their traditions and religious beliefs.
Abstract: The authors examine the potential uses of Relational Cultural Theory for strengthening the many relationships inherent in field education, pointing to three main elements of Relational Cultural Theory: mutual engagement, mutual empathy, and mutual empowerment. The authors give examples of field education situations in which each of these elements plays a role.
In this issue’s Conversation, Trudy Zimmerman, Assistant Dean of Field Education at the Boston University School of Social Work, talks with Marion Bogo about the current state of field education. Marion Bogo is a Professor of Social Work in the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. She is also the Associate Editor of Social Work Education: The International Journal and the author of several books, book chapters and journal articles on social work education. In 2013, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) presented her with their Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award. —Editor’s Note
What We're Reading
Staying current with scholarship enriches the work of field educators: it teaches us innovative ways to solve perennial field problems, suggests new readings for field seminars, keeps us abreast of current debates in social work education, and even inspires us in our own writing on theory and research. “What We’re Reading” presents our brief summaries of the findings of recent publications in field education. Our emphasis is on implications for practice. Readers are encouraged to suggest articles or books for future review. Whenever possible, we have provided links to freely available fulltext articles.
News & Notes
The leadership of the North American Network of Field Educators and Directors (NANFED) is pleased to announce the group’s 2013 reincorporation. Having been originally founded in 1987 to promote the interests of social work field education, NANFED continues pursuing this mission through a range of activities that promote the interests of field education. With renewed focus and dedication, and in collaboration with a nationwide network of consortia and field educators, NANFED will continue its critical work representing an independent voice on behalf of field educators, supporting best practices through field education scholarship, and promoting and celebrating quality field education. A 24/7 resource, the newly-launched NANFED Web site provides up-to-date information and networking opportunities for current and prospective members.
Abstract: The author examines the role of clinical supervision, specifically supervision through Cognitive-Analytic Therapy (CAT), for social workers in understanding and managing countertransference and transference in their work with groups and individuals. By relating her own experience as a group work facilitator without CAT supervision and then under CAT supervision, the author concludes that CAT supervision benefits clinicians and facilitators by allowing them to identify their own countertransference and transference as well as that of their clients, helping them to avoid burnout and be more effective in their roles as clinicians.
The Heart of Social Work Award, presented annually by the North American Network of Field Educators and Directors, is the ultimate award that can be given to a field instructor for excellence in field education. There is no one more deserving of this award than Michael Herskovitz. Mike, as he is affectionately called, is a dedicated educator who has committed a good portion of his professional career to educating future social workers, serving as a field instructor for over 30 years for Adelphi University social work students.
Field Educator is made possible by the Arnold & Irma Bloom '51SW Fund for SSW.