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The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) defines field education as its signature pedagogy. Signature pedagogy represents the central form of instruction or learning, in which a profession socializes its students to perform the role of practitioner. Field experience is viewed as complementary parts of an integrated social work education. The intent of field education is to connect the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practical work of an agency setting. Field education is systematically designed, supervised, and evaluated based on criteria developed in accordance with CSWE education standards.
Field placements are determined based on academic expectation, the students’ educational needs and objectives, and agency opportunities. Field practice provides students with:
- Gaining experiences directly related to the academic/classroom curriculum
- Opportunities to test what they have learned
- A means of evaluating their own social work practice
Student experiences in field practice are also integrated into classroom work and learning. Thus, learning in the field setting is an integral component of the student’s social work education and lies at the core of the student’s professional development.
MSW students learn in supervised field placement sites during the course of the program. Students are required to complete this component of the degree in order to be eligible to graduate. Students are placed in agency or institutional settings that have contractual arrangements with the Department of Family Therapy and Social Work. Each student is placed with a field instructor who provides on-site supervision. The student also participates in bi-monthly professional supervisory seminars on campus with the faculty supervisor. These seminars combine readings, discussions, ethical consultations, process recordings, and personal reflection, as a means for students to critically analyze and evaluate practice theories and concepts. Students may not be placed in field sites in which they are employed.
All students are required to participate in field placements throughout the two-year program. Students are consulted about their areas of interest and any geographical limitations or concerns before they are placed by the clinical director. Students will interview with the field supervisors to determine if they are an appropriate fit for the site. A field supervisor may decline to accept a student. In this instance the field supervisor will provide a detailed explanation of the concerns. If the student is not accepted at a subsequent site, the program director and clinical director will confer with the student to determine if the student is appropriate for field placement, and if remediation is required and continuation in the program is appropriate.