The field component has been designated by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) as the signature pedagogy for the profession. The abundance of social service agencies in our are coupled with a dedicated group of competent and caring field supervisors who unselfishly give of their time and energy provide an exceptional learning experience.
Students complete a minimum of 600 hours of in-agency, supervised work experience as part of graduation requirements. Field work is integrated with course work and provides students an opportunity to apply skills and knowledge developed in the foundation courses. Further integration is achieved through completion of written assignments demonstrating fulfillment of program objectives which relate classroom learning to actual practice experience.
Field instruction is an integral part of the curriculum wherein students are provided with opportunities to apply knowledge and skills previously developed in the foundation areas. Junior students are required to attend field two days per week (200 hours) for one semester, either Spring or Fall, and attend a weekly field seminar. They concurrently take Methods and Processes I and II and Communication Skills, the three required practice courses. Senior students attend field two days per week for the entire academic year and also attend a weekly integrating seminar each semester. There is also an option for qualified seniors to elect a block field assignment which involves a 4 ½ day placement and a two hour weekly seminar.
All junior social work majors complete a two hundred hour supervised field experience and attend a sixty-minute integrating seminar on campus during either the first or second semester, depending on whether or not they have completed the necessary field prerequisites. The nature of the junior placement is to familiarize students with agency operations, to expose them to social work activities within an agency setting, and to offer them direct client contact. In addition, it provides exposure to professional behavior and expectations of social workers in an agency context and the opportunity to relate the agency to their understanding of the community in which it is located.
Junior field allows students the opportunity to experience themselves as professional helpers, with the realities of agency-based social services, and with clients and real world demands. It also enables them to overcome the usual first-time-in-field problems of timidity and over anxiety prior to the more intensive senior year field experience. Finally, through completion of the Organizational Context of Practice written assignment, students enter senior field with a better understanding of how agency purpose, policies and structure limit, shape and condition the services provided to clients.
Building upon the two hundred hour junior field experience and fourteen hour seminar experience, senior social work students must now complete an additional four hundred hours in supervised field instruction, the requirements of the field seminar, and two written assignments – The Professional Context of Practice and Senior Case Assignment. Many will have the option of completing these requirements in a one semester block experience, rather than the traditional two semester concurrent experience.
The majority of senior students complete field placement requirements through concurrent assignments, i.e., two-days-per-week for two consecutive semesters, accompanied by a weekly 60 minute integrating seminar. Regardless of the field option selected, senior students are expected to move immediately (within two weeks of beginning placement) into field responsibilities that will enable them to meet the objectives of senior field, SWK 475, 476, 477. The social work faculty assigned to conduct the weekly senior field seminar also serves as the program liaison to the agency. The senior field placement must allow students ample opportunity for supervised practice to ensure that they can demonstrate functioning as a generalist practitioner.
As previously discussed, field experiences provide opportunity for students to integrate and apply knowledge, values, skills and techniques in practice situations. They fulfill objectives of the field component specifically through field logs, seminar presentations, and written assignments. The student portfolio culminates in senior field through completion of a Case Assignment and Professional Context of Practice Assignment.