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 Department of Social Work MSW Field Program

Mission of Field Education

Learning Objectives

  • To understand the mission and purpose of field education
  • To understand the objectives of a field placement
  • To understand the requirements of field education

Mission of Field in the Profession

Much research has been conducted to illustrate the importance of the field component to the profession of social work. Through the literature, the following definitions have been offered:

"The field work component of social work education plays an important role in fusing the knowledge, skills, and values of the profession" (Abramson, 1990)

"Field work is the primary mechanism through which students learn to translate theoretical knowledge into practice skills." (Knight, 1996)

"In the field, students develop practice skills, translate theory from the classroom into the reality of practice, and test their ability to be professional social workers." (Fortune, 2001)

"Field education has allowed students to "learn by doing" with the community serving as the laboratory for applying knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom." (Raschick, 1998)

Therefore, field plays an integral part in a social worker's preparation for practice. Field offers students a chance to practice their skills in a supportive, nurturing environment in order to further develop as a professional.

Mission of Field in the UMD Social Work Program

Based on general systems theory and the understanding of the person-in-environment, the general program goal is to graduate students with advanced knowledge and skills in strengthening individuals, groups and families, organizations and communities, through interventions at the micro (direct service), organizational and community levels. Furthermore, graduates will have acquired skills to move into positions of leadership, both within the profession, as well as in the community. To accomplish this goal, an integrated sequence of courses has been developed to meet the needs of the students.

Effective helping at any system level requires a combination of approaches. The effective helping process requires that students have a broad base of knowledge in psychological, social, economic, political and societal problems and the skills to solve them.

Graduates will have developed self-awareness, as well as have acquired an "advanced generalist" base of knowledge and skills. Accordingly, students are prepared to work in a variety of social and health settings, and at a variety of levels of system intervention. Working with American Indians receives a special emphasis in the program

Description of Field I:

Field I is the equivalent of the Field experience that the BSW students received. The focus is on generalist social work at the direct practice, organizational and community level. This year is also referred to as the foundation year. The learning experiences and content are operationalized in the student´s learning contract. They must prepare the student for the concentration year by including the core interviewing skills and the development and application of the problem-solving model, within the context of systems theory. Case management and individual/family advocacy are appropriate assignments, as well as work on agency committees and community organizing projects. Remember, a student completing their Field I placement does not have an undergraduate social work degree. They may have little or no prior social work experience.

Description of Field II:

Field II is the advanced generalist concentration year learning experience. The focus is an advanced generalist SW at the direct practice, organizational and community level. Both 34 credit and second year 51 credit students are required to take Field II. The learning experiences must be of a stair-step nature. It is not satisfactory to just repeat the learning experiences of the foundation year. To reflect the advanced generalist model, the Field II placement focus is on advanced practice with individuals, families, organizations and communities. This is consistent with the Department´s goal of producing students with a well-rounded repertoire of practice skills for use at all three system levels.

Field I Objectives:

  • To integrate within a social work practice setting the theories and principles of generalist practice learned in the classroom, including the ecological-systems perspective, the strengths perspective, and multi-level intervention.
  • To demonstrate effective practice skills for utilizing a problem -solving process within a generalist practice framework, including the steps of engagement, data collection assessment, planning, intervention, termination and follow-up.
  • To examine social work values and ethics in a critical manner and to apply them in a professional setting.
  • To practice effectively within an organizational structure by developing a working knowledge of the mission, policies, procedures and structure of the agency.
  • To develop practice skills relevant to issues of human diversity (people of color, lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/transgender, other oppressed populations) and rural communities.
  • To gain knowledge and the ability to appropriately use health and social services available in the community.
  • To develop effective interpersonal skills in relating to clients and
    colleagues, including the ability to provide feedback.
  • To demonstrate a beginning understanding regarding the impact of social
    policy issues.

Field II Objectives:

  • Demonstrate advanced practice skills which address complex issues with individuals, families and/or small groups.
  • Demonstrate advanced practice skills to address issues at the organizational level of practice by engaging in administrative, program development, organizational change and/or supervisory activities.
  • Demonstrate advanced practice skills by addressing complex issues through community development, social action, social planning, and/or systemic change strategies to advance social and economic justice.
  • Incorporate appropriate theoretical developments and research findings into one´s own practice at all three levels.
  • Demonstrate a high level of interpersonal skills at all levels of advanced practice.
  • Demonstrate the ability to analyze policy issues and assess their impact on practice at all levels of advanced social work practice.
  • Demonstrate the ability to conduct evaluations, integrating principles learned in the MSW coursework, at a direct practice, organizational and community level.
  • Identify and apply social work values and ethics at all levels of social work practice.
  • Demonstrate the ability to practice autonomously, be self-reflective, and incorporate feedback into one´s professional practice.
  • Demonstrate a professional level of competence in critical thinking skills and their expression in oral and written communications.
  • Demonstrate a professional level of competency in the knowledge and skills relevant to issues of human diversity (people of color, lesbian/gay/bi-sexual/ transgender, other oppressed populations).
  • Demonstrate culturally competent skills in assessment and intervention at a personal and organizational level.

Field Mission as it Relates to Child Welfare Practice

The UMD Department of Social Work is committed to provided specialized training for students in the area of public and tribal child welfare practice. The mission of University of Minnesota Duluth's Center for Regional and Tribal Child Welfare Studies is to promote the development of culturally competent advanced generalist social workers, practitioners, and leaders to serve at-risk children and their families through public child welfare agencies, focusing on Northern Minnesota. Those students receiving a Title IV-E child welfare scholarship have special requirements, as outlined below. Additional information will be provided in the "Child Welfare practice" module.

Child Welfare Scholars must complete at least one field placement either, 1) at a Minnesota county department of social services in a unit with a focus on child welfare or else 2) at an American Indian human service agency with a focus on strengthening families and preventing out-of-home placements of at-risk children. For Non-Advanced Standing students, this placement must be completed for the Field I requirement. Since Advanced Standing students are involved only in Field II, they must meet these IV-E requirements through Field II.

Options for Completing Fieldwork

Concurrent Field Placements
These placements span 16 hours per week over the course of the nine-month academic year. A full classroom course load is carried by full-time students.
Block Field Placements
Only the Summer Sessions can be used for black placements, which require twelve weeks of placement at forty hours per week.

Below are the Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) requirements for field education:

2.1 The social work program administers field education (Educational Policy, Section 4.7 and Section 5) consistent with program goals and objectives that:

2.1.1 Provides for a minimum of 400 hours of field education for baccalaureate programs and 900 hours for master´s programs.

2.1.2 Admits only those students who have met the program´s specified criteria for field education.

2.1.3 Specifies policies, criteria, and procedures for selecting agencies and field instructors; placing and monitoring students; maintaining field liaison contacts with agencies; and evaluating student learning and agency effectiveness in providing field

2.1.4 Specifies that field instructors for baccalaureate students hold a CSWE-accredited baccalaureate or master´s social work degree.2 Field instructors for master´s students hold a CSWE-accredited master´s social work degree. In programs where a field instructor does not hold a CSWE-accredited baccalaureate or master´s social work
degree, the program assumes responsibility for reinforcing a social work perspective.

2.1.5 Provides orientation, field instruction training, and continuing dialog with agencies and field instructors.

2.1.6 Develops policies regarding field placements in an agency in which the student is also employed. Student assignments and field education supervision differ from those associated with the student's employment.


MSW Field Supervisor Training Power Point

The following power point presentation was created by Kathy Heltzer as a tool for you to use in order to gain a better understanding for what is required of the students, supervisors, and agencies within the UMD MSW program. This presentation helps to point out some of the ways in which we can all improve the quality of supervision in order to ensure that field agencies and students get the most out of their internship experience.

View Powerpoint Presentation


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