The Field Educator, an online journal produced by the Simmons School of Social Work, promotes knowledge exchange among the social work field education community.

Volume 10.1 | Spring 2020

Editorial

Guest Editorial: Advancing Field Education as a Key Area of Focus in the 2022 EPAS

[Editor’s Note:  Estella C. Williamson is the Social Work Field Director at Seattle University. Dr. Williamson also teaches advanced practice and human behavior coursework in the MSW program. She currently serves as chair of the CSWE Council on Field Education. Dr. Williamson earned her DSW from the University of Pennsylvania and her MSW from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Her research interests are in field education, mental health, and HIV prevention among Black women. Dr. Williamson has professional social work practice experience in child welfare, outpatient mental health and addictions, prenatal services, and HIV clinical and preventive care. She has instructional and curriculum development experience. Dr. Williamson has also maintained a private clinical practice in New York State for many years.]

Read more…

Letter from the Editor: Field Education and COVID-19

We would be hard-pressed to release an issue of this journal without acknowledging the global pandemic that has all but stopped the world in its tracks, and taken thousands of lives along the way. One day we were all going about our business, and the next (or so it seemed), our work worlds became virtual, our personal stories complicated and pained, and the future uncertain.

Read more…

Field Scholar

How Many Hours is Enough? The Effects of Changes in Field Practicum Hours on Student Preparedness for Social Work

Abstract

The field practicum is social work’s signature pedagogy, but no empirical research has established how many hours students need to develop professional competence. Extensive hours pose hardships for working students, so research should determine minimum and optimal numbers of practicum hours. This quasi-experimental study evaluated changes to field hours for BSW, Foundation MSW, and Advanced MSW students. Reduced hours did not harm BSW and Advanced MSW students’ preparedness. However, increased hours may have aided Foundation MSW students’ skill development. Social work programs should consider students’ professional development and their school, work, and family obligations when setting field practicum hours requirements.

Keywords:  field practicum; field hours; practice readiness; social work internship; evaluation

Read more…

Graduating Seniors Prepare Classmates for Practicum

Abstract

This qualitative study explored the advice of graduating BSW students (N=180) to upper-level students about to embark on their practicum field experience. Using a content analysis methodology, students’ field experience reflections on preparing for the practicum centered on three major themes:  practical tips for picking a practicum, being teachable, and finding value in the practicum experience. The desired goal for this inquiry was to provide information that would prove useful to students entering their practicum experience, the field instructors providing on-site supervision, and the BSW field directors conducting orientation to both of these groups.

Keywords:  practicum; BSW students; content analysis; field experiences

Read more…

Generational Learning in Social Work: Is it Them or Us?

Abstract

Field education is the signature pedagogy of social work programs, serving to develop the skills and competencies required for this professional designation. This qualitative study explores the experiences of social workers supervising students in the current millennial and Z generations in their social work field placements. Field supervisors indicated challenges particular to the current generation of social work students as coming in the form of a lack of confidence, initiative, and work ethic, and difficulty accepting feedback and engaging in critical self-reflection. The findings highlight the need for social work educators to revisit traditional approaches to teaching and evaluation. 

Keywords: social work; field education; generation; qualitative 

Read more…

Selection of Field Education Management Software in Social Work

Abstract

As the signature pedagogy of social work education, field education is a critical and complicated aspect of program development. Effectively managing this complex process is a priority and requires a significant amount of administrative activity to maintain compliance and manage experiences for all stakeholders. While countless field placement software platforms are available to streamline processes and improve efficiencies, little guidance is available to support programs to strategically evaluate, select, and implement a software platform. In this article, the authors provide a model for vetting field placement software using a case study. The article concludes with implications for other universities considering adopting software to manage placements within their social work field education departments.

Keywords: social work; field education; placement software; technology; case study

Read more…

Practice Digest

Using Field Assignments to Enhance Student Contributions and Program-Setting Relationships

Introduction

Field directors are challenged to accommodate competing demands from students, administration, and placement agencies (Buck, Bradley, Robb, & Kirzner, 2012). Logistics of commuting, cost, caregiving needs, and needs for flexible scheduling are all common limitations that field directors consider (Bradley & Buck, 2014). As the broker and main point of contact for placements, field directors are also responsible for developing and maintaining strong relationships with agencies in their community (Bradley & Buck, 2014). With an increase of students entering field and competition from other local colleges, options can be scarce.

Additionally, it is a time-consuming process for field directors to develop new placements, recruit and orient field instructors, and negotiate affiliation agreements (Buck et al., 2012). Maintaining relationships long term reduces field director workload in searching for new placements. The positive effect of student contributions through well-structured field assignments on these working relationships can be easily overlooked.

Read more…

Integrated Field and Collaborative Opportunities for MSW Students at Campus Health

 [Authors’ Note: This paper was supported by grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration: G02HP279900201 and M01HP31370.]

Introduction

A 2018 Annual Report from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health on college and university campuses reported a steady increase in the number of college students seeking mental health services (Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 2019). Yet, nationally and locally, universities are grappling with how to provide needed services despite limited resources (Blake, 2019; Xiao et al., 2017). Given this, an innovative pilot was created for the dual benefit of expanding integrated behavioral health field placements at one School of Social Work (SSW) while also providing more comprehensive integrated services at Campus Health (CH), the health care center for the student population at the flagship campus of a public university located in the southeastern United States. 

Read more…

Trauma-Informed Interview Coaching: An Innovative Approach to Achieve Equal Opportunity and Social Justice in Field Education

“Poor people, people of color especially, are much more likely to be found in prison than in institutions of higher education.” – Angela Davis*

*From Now on The News with Maria Hinijosa interview with Angela Davis on February 23, 2007. Full interview text available at http://www.pbs.org/now/news/308-transcript.html

Introduction

In 2018, field faculty at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work launched a pilot project called Trauma-Informed Interview Coaching (TIIC). The project’s goals were to support justice-involved MSW students during the field placement process, to decrease failed agency interviews, and to reduce agency replacements. This project is ongoing and data on its outcomes are being collected and evaluated.

Read more…

A New Partnership: Transforming the Field Education Landscape – Intersections of Research and Practice in Canadian Social Work Field Education

Introduction

Practicum, also known as field education, is the signature pedagogy for a wide range of professional education programs, especially social work (Ralph, Walker, & Wimmer, 2007; Wayne, Bogo, & Raskin, 2010). Social work is a profession concerned with helping individuals, families, groups, and communities to enhance their individual and collective well-being (Canadian Association of Social Workers, n.d.). With approximately 50,000 social workers in Canada, the profession plays a critical role in the delivery of social services in the labor market (Stephenson, Rondeau, Michaud, & Fiddler, 2001). The social work profession and the accrediting and regulatory bodies for social work education recognize the critical importance of practicum in preparing the future social service workforce (Bogo, 2015). Field placements provide real-world practice experience in which knowledge, skills, and values that students learn in the classroom are applied within practice settings under the supervision of a qualified professional (Ralph et al., 2007). Many schools of social work offer a traditional agency-based model of field education in which unpaid, voluntary, one-on-one “tutoring” is provided by professional social workers, or field instructors (Bogo, 2006). Field instructors serve as mentors, teachers, and role models for practicum students by demonstrating the necessary knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and ethics required to be a practicing professional through supervised application of practice in the field (Ayala et al., 2018; Barretti, 2007; Bogo, 2006).

Read more…

Multi-Layered Supervision: The Role of Team-Based Approaches in Field Education

Introduction

According to Noble and Irwin (2009), social work supervision balances ethically-informed, competent, and accountable practice with a focus on a learner-centered partnership. As a distinct form of supervision, field instruction focuses on the educational outcomes for students. This focus distinguishes field instruction from staff supervision. While staff supervision focuses heavily on managerial responsibilities such as task coverage, equitable caseloads, and client outcomes, field supervisors are also educators who must balance agency needs with student learning needs. Bogo and McKnight (2006) identify three essential functions of field supervision: 1) the educational function, 2) the supportive function, and 3) the administrative function. The administrative function of field supervision focuses on task assignments and monitoring student performance according to the agency’s practices and policies. By contrast, the educational function emphasizes professional growth, including skill development, and awareness. Finally, the supportive function ensures that the supervisor assists the supervisee in handling stress while gaining appropriate autonomy through encouragement and reassurance. Quality field supervision involves the incorporation of all three functions.

Read more…

Conversations

A Conversation on a New Canadian Social Work Field Education and Research Collaboration Initiative

[Editor’s Note: This issue’s Conversation features an interview by Kim Harriman, MSW, Editor-in-Chief of the Field Educator with Julie Drolet, PhD, Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary and Project Director of the Transforming the Field Education Landscape partnership. Her research in the field of international social work focuses on disaster social work, immigrant settlement and integration, social protection, social development, and social work field education. She is a registered social worker with the Alberta College of Social Workers (ACSW). She collaborates with several interdisciplinary teams of scholars on various research initiatives, and employs numerous students as research assistants. We invite readers to learn more by reading Dr. Drolet’s article in the Practice Digest section of this issue, entitled “A New Partnership:  Transforming the Field Education Landscape – Intersections of Research and Practice in Canadian Social Work Field Education.”]

Read more…

What We're Reading

Recent Articles of Note

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.
Read more…

Kudos

A Tribute to Trudy Zimmerman

Trudy Zimmerman, EdM

Over the past 40 years, Trudy Zimmerman has offered her educational and administrative knowledge to Boston University’s School of Social Work. From the start of her career at Boston University in 1980, Trudy made her mark in the School of Social Work. She was known by colleagues as someone with “exquisitely good judgement” who shared her wisdom and kindness to all. Trudy was viewed as an “invaluable source of help” and a “beacon of light” for many students. Her devotion to social work was so palpable that one colleague shared, “Trudy’s insights, experiences, and commitment to the signature pedagogy of social work education is an extraordinary strength and great light in BUSSW.”

Read more…

The Dean Schneck Memorial Award for Distinction in Social Work Field Education Winner: Ronnie Glassman

Ronnie Glassman was presented her award by members of the NANFED Board of Directors Pictured from left to right: Angela Savage, Michele Sienkiewicz, Ronnie Glassman, Theresia Johnson-Ratliff, Julie Kates, Froylana Heredia-Miller, and Kimberly Gibson

Dr. Ronnie Glassman was honored with the Dean Schneck Memorial Award for Distinction in Social Work Field Education at NANFED’s annual reception at the 2019 CSWE APM in Denver. At the presentation of the award, Dr. Glassman was acknowledged as, “one of the early leaders of field education as we know it today; an advocate, organizer, and role model for hundreds of field directors over her long career.”

Read more…

Simmons

The Field Educator is an online journal published by the Simmons School of Social Work that promotes knowledge exchange among the social work field education community. Learn more about Simmons SSW »