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Empowering Students to Promote Social Justice: A Qualitative Study of Field Instructors’ Perceptions and Strategies

Published October 2013

by Kirsten Havig, PhD
University of Oklahoma - Tulsa
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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.

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