Falk College

The mission of the field experience is for students to learn how to use social work knowledge and skills with clients in practice situations. The field instructor must assist students to see how social work knowledge, values, and skills are used within the agency.

For every client interaction, students should be given opportunities to understand the social work skills that were necessary during the interaction, the social work knowledge that informed these actions, and the social work values that influenced the interaction.

Field Education: Integrating Theory and Practice:

Integrating theory and practice refers to the process of making connections between the social work knowledge, values, and skills learned in the classroom and the current practice experiences students are having in the field.

  • the focus turns from the acquisition of knowledge to the application of knowledge in an agency setting
  • the purpose of the field experience is for students to learn how to use social work knowledge and skills with clients in practice situations.
  • the purpose of field education is not for students to learn how to work at a particular agency. Students should understand how to apply social work knowledge, skills and values to any agency setting and be prepared to work with clients.

What we know about students:

  • Students in field education are likely to focus on task completion rather than on the reasons behind the tasks.

  • Students may become so focused on the task they are completing that they do not think about social work knowledge or skills—they are simply imitating the actions of their field instructor or others they have observed.

  • Students rarely critically analyze their actions. When one task is completed, they often just move on to the next task.

  • Students must be prompted to make the connections between the tasks and the reasons behind the tasks.

Field Instructors Play a Significant Role in helping students integrate theory and practice:

For every client interaction, students should be given opportunities to understand the social work skills that were necessary during the interaction, the social work knowledge that informed these actions, and the social work values that influenced the interaction.

  1. Where do these actions fit in the overall helping process?
  2. Why was this interaction necessary for effective social work practice with this client?
  3. What knowledge, values and skills did you use?


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