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

Volume 14.1 | Spring 2024

Field Talks

Episode 3: Service User Perspectives in Social Work Education

Episode 3: Service User Perspectives in Social Work Education

Field Talks host, Dr. Katharine Dill of Marist College, interviews Dr. Joe Duffy of Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Their conversation explores the client’s, or “service user’s,” role in social work education. When service users provide immediate feedback to students following an interview it can have a powerful impact on student learning. The podcast highlights how service user feedback promotes student resilience and learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor

The national election scene is in high gear. Election concerns are grabbing our attention and occupying premium space in our conversations and activities. I’m reminded of the recent 2020 and 2022 elections, and remembering the impressive voter mobilization drives implemented in social work schools and agencies.

In 2019, professional social workers and schools of social work created the national social work voter mobilization campaign Voting is Social Work. The campaign is based on the concept that voter accessibility and engagement are key to a healthy democracy. Voting is Social Work recognizes the power of integrating educational activities about nonpartisan voter engagement into social work education and practice. The campaign not only offers extensive classroom resources, but also provides resources for students and faculty to use in field placement sites. Resources address the promotion of civic engagement and voter mobilization at community field placements ( The Voting is Social Work campaign reminds us that students, field instructors, and field liaisons can take the lead in such initiatives. Furthermore, activities and learning associated with voting are easily linked to macro curriculum and EPAS competencies.

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Field Scholar

Supporting Students with Disabilities in Social Work Field Placements: What Is Being Done?


Social work educators have an obligation to ensure inclusive learning environments for students with disabilities, who account for approximately 20% of the undergraduate and graduate population at most postsecondary settings. However, little is known about how MSW and BSW policies direct educators and supervisors to uphold these obligations in the context of field education. This descriptive content analysis employed a mixed-methods approach to analyze a cross-section of 50 field education manuals from social work programs across the United States. Findings suggest that, while most field education manuals articulate policies specific to students with disabilities (e.g., nondiscrimination and antiharassment legalese, disclosure practices, accommodations processes), the depth and breadth of these policies varies significantly. The implications of these findings and emergent best practices for supporting students with visible and invisible disabilities during their internship experiences are described. 

Keywords: social work field education; content analysis; disability; accessibility; inclusion 

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Moving from Darkness to Light: Social Work Students’ Reflections on COVID-19 in Practice And the Future of the Profession

Author’s note: The term COVID-19 as used in this manuscript refers to Coronavirus disease 2019; the term pandemic refers to the disease outbreak caused by COVID-19 as determined by the World Health Organization. These two terms are used interchangeably.


Social workers continue to feel the ramifications of COVID-19 on professional and personal development in almost all domains—in the classroom, in field practice, and as future practitioners. In this qualitative study, researchers illuminate undergraduate social work students’ perceptions of how COVID-19 has impacted their field education and social work practice, and in turn sheds light on the implications for future social work education. The study explores students’ unique perspectives through content analysis of personal reflective writing. Results highlight how students continue to experience collective trauma, and how, as newly emerging social worker professionals, they perceive the new landscape of service delivery. Results also highlight the need to integrate new teaching practices, especially around the use of technology. 

Keywords: BSW students; COVID-19; field education; collective trauma

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Toward Understanding the Training Needs of Canadian Field Instructors

* Marion Bogo died in September 2021, during the survey administration. She actively participated in the development of the survey.


This mixed-methods study examined the training needs of Canadian field instructors (N = 58), their perceived barriers to training, and their most pressing supervision challenges. Field instructors responded to an online survey sent through placement coordinators at English-language schools of social work across Canada. Participants reported feeling “somewhat confident” in the field instructor role, and almost 40% reported not receiving any training prior to engaging in the role. Time was overwhelmingly cited as a barrier to field instructor training. When training occurred, participants reported it was mainly through their workplace or independent reading. Thematic analysis of an open-ended question regarding participants’ most challenging aspects of providing field instruction elicited the following themes: (a) student challenges, (b) organizational challenges, and (c) field instructor challenges. Implications for field instructor training are offered. 

Keywords: field Instructors; training; Canada; online survey 

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Social Work Departmental Leadership Attitudes on Formal Mentorship: The Impact on Field Directors


Despite numerous benefits, formal faculty mentorship, particularly within social work, remains underutilized. To assess attitudes towards formal mentorship, a national exploratory survey (N = 187) was conducted of those in social work leadership positions within CSWE-accredited programs. Findings indicate overwhelming support for formal mentorship. Social work deans were least receptive, and field directors expressed the highest level of support. Participants were moderately receptive to adding mentorship requirements to the EPAS. Field directors deliver the signature pedagogy of social work education and should be provided with formal mentorship. Implications for field, social work education, and future research recommendations are presented.

Keywords: formal mentorship; field directors; social work education; CSWE EPAS; attitudes 

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Practice Digest

The Truth, Liberation, and Justice Project: Engaging Students in Conversations about Antiracism in Social Work

The racial injustice of 2020 revealed that the social work profession was not upholding its commitment to antiracist practice (National Association of Social Workers [NASW], 2021). In Undoing Racism Through Social Work: NASW Report to the Profession on Racial Justice Priorities and Action, the NASW apologized for perpetuating racist practices and created a framework by which to promote antiracism and social justice across the country (NASW, 2021). Following a meeting of the North American Network of Field Directors and Educators (NANFED) in 2021, field educators Kimberly Gibson (University of Alabama), Julie Navarre (Michigan State University), Julie Kates (Portland State University), and Carmen Reese Foster (University of Tennessee) responded to this “call to action” by developing the Truth, Liberation, and Justice (TLJ) Project. The TLJ Project promoted ethically grounded, antiracist practice in social work by engaging students residing in urban and rural locations in authentic, transparent, and planned conversations about the reality of racism and the movement towards liberation and justice. This article provides a road map for other social work faculty who are interested in creating a free, accessible, and voluntary program for BSW, MSW, DSW, and PhD students interested in enacting their personal and professional commitments to antiracist social work practice. The authors share the structure of the program, materials used, lessons learned, and implications for social work education and practice.

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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 »