Field instructors for the BSSW Program must have a BSSW or MSSW degree from a program accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and a minimum of two years of post-social work degree practice experience. Field instructors for the MSSW program must have an MSSW from a program accredited by CSWE and a minimum of two years of post-MSSW degree professional social work experience. No specific professional license is required.
In addition to the basic education and experience requirements, field instructors must be interested in teaching and have the capacity to use a variety of methods to assist students in developing social work knowledge and skills. Field instructors must also have sufficient control of their own work schedules and/or support from their supervisors to be able to devote the time needed to provide instruction and supervision for a student.
Anyone who is interested in becoming a field instructor should contact the Field Coordinator for the program or campus that s/he is interested in serving. The Field Coordinator will provide information about where to send information along with training dates and/or access to the online training program.
Field instructors are required to complete a 3-module training course, including information on field roles and responsibilities, curriculum, teaching methods, field documentation, evaluation of students, and risk management. This training is offered annually in a face-to-face format on each campus and is also available in an online format. The training is free to field instructors, and the College provides training certificates with contact hours.
The Field Coordinator for each campus/program is responsible for facilitating the placement process for each student in that program. Each student works with her/his Field Coordinator to identify potential placements and to arrange for placement interviews. Depending on the specific program and level of placement, this process may involve submission of planning forms, resumes, meetings with the Field Coordinator, attendance at placement fairs, and completion of one or more placement interviews. The final decision regarding placement assignment is made by the Field Coordinator.
The primary benefit of becoming a field instructor is the opportunity to work with students. Students bring energy, enthusiasm, and current practice knowledge and skills from their coursework. Field instructors often find the mentoring relationship with students to be highly rewarding. In addition, in the course of implementing their learning activities, students generally make a significant contribution to agency services.
Other benefits of becoming a field instructor include access to free or low cost training events along with training certificates. In addition to the 3-module certification training, the College provides specialized training for field instructors at annual appreciation events and at other times throughout the year. Field instructors may also have access to the online resources of the UT Libraries by request. Finally, field instructors become connected to the College of Social Work and critical partners in the education and training of the next generation of social workers.
Field instructors work with students to develop a written learning plan for each semester. This learning plan details the specific learning activities the student will undertake in the field organization to meet the learning competencies for the field course. Field instructors also provide written evaluations of students at midterm and at the end of the semester. These evaluations include ratings of student performance along with summary evaluative feedback. Field instructors are also expected to document their supervision with students on the student’s time sheet and to keep written records of communication regarding any concerns with student performance.
Field paperwork is completed electronically in a user-friendly online system. The College field faculty makes every effort to keep paperwork requirements as reasonable and efficient as possible.
The minimum time required for field instruction is one hour per week of supervision. However, field instructors should expect to spend more than an hour per week orienting students and providing any specialized training that is needed. Field instructors are also expected to be available to students for consultation between weekly supervision sessions.
The Field Coordinator for each program or campus is responsible for oversight of the field experience for all students in that program. This includes development of placement sites; selection and training of Field Instructors; selection, training, and supervision of Field Liaisons; coordinating the placement planning process for students; problem-solving student and agency concerns; and providing oversight or instruction of field seminar.
The Field Liaison provides linkage between the College of Social Work, the student, and the Field Instructor. The Liaison provides consultation as needed and assists in resolving concerns and problems in field.
The Field Instructor provides oversight of the student’s educational experience in the placement setting. This includes providing orientation and training for the student, developing the learning plan, completing evaluations, providing weekly supervision, and selecting and supervising the work of Task Instructors.
The Task Instructor is a field agency employee who provides supervision and instruction of students as delegated by the Field Instructor.
The Student is an adult learner who is expected to approach her/his field experience with professionalism, initiative, and accountability and to use the field team for support if concerns or problems arise.
The Director of Field and International Education is responsible for oversight of the field education for all of the programs of the College and for supervision of all field coordinators. The director is also responsible for developing international partnerships for students to study and complete field abroad and for working with students to arrange international experiences.
Junior BSSW students complete 120 field agency hours and attend a concurrent field seminar.
Senior BSSW students complete 480 field agency hours. Students can complete senior field concurrently, over two semesters (fall and spring), completing 240 field hours each semester. Or Block field is an option for senior students, students complete 480 field hours in one semester (spring semester only). In order to complete block field, all social work courses (except SOWK 460) must be completed. Senior students attend a concurrent field seminar.
Students in the MSSW generalist placement complete a total of 352 hours spread over two semesters in the field organization. Generalist students are generally in field 2 days/16 hours per week beginning in early October. and 39 hours in generalist field seminar.
Students in the MSSW concentration placement complete a total of 672 hours spread over 2-3 semesters in the field organization. Full-time students are generally in field 3 days/24 hours per week for 2 semesters, while extended study or part-time students may be in field only 2 days per week for 3 semesters.
The Field Coordinator for each campus/program is responsible for facilitating the placement process for each student in that program. Each student works with her/his Field Coordinator to identify potential placements and to arrange for placement interviews. Depending on the specific program and level of placement, this process may involve submission of planning forms, resumes, meetings with the Field Coordinator, attendance at placement fairs, and completion of one or more placement interviews. Field instructors and their organizations make a decision after interviewing the student as to whether the student will be offered a placement, and students identify their placement preferences to their Field Coordinator. The final decision regarding placement assignment is confirmed by the Field Coordinator.
The MSSW Generalist placement enables the student to apply the broad course content in an agency setting and develop competence in generalist social work practice. This includes assessment, engagement, intervention, evaluation, advocacy, and policy practice at multiple client system levels. The concentration placement is focused on the development of advanced knowledge and skills for practice within the student’s chosen concentration and, if applicable, a specific certificate program. As such, this is a much more specialized placement experience. The concentration placement also requires completion of significantly more agency hours than the generalist placement.
The two concentrations in the MSSW program are: Evidence-Based Interpersonal Practice (EBIP) and Organizational Leadership (OL). The EBIP concentration is focused on advanced direct practice with individuals, families, and groups. Examples of EBIP concentration field settings include: community mental health, substance abuse treatment, medical centers, schools, and forensic facilities. The OL concentration is focused on advanced indirect practice with organizations, communities, and societies. Examples of OL concentration field settings include: administrative offices of public and private organizations, grassroots organizations, policy and lobbying organizations, grant-writing and grants management departments, program evaluation and quality improvement programs.
Students may request to complete a field placement within their employing agency. Certain requirements must be met in order to meet accreditation standards. The employing agency must meet the College’s requirements for field placement sites. The placement cannot be the same as the student’s employment position and must represent new learning that addresses the competencies of the specific practicum course. The student’s field placement must be supervised by someone who is not involved in the student’s employment supervision and who meets all College requirements for being a field instructor. The student must submit the written proposal and a signed contract to her/his field coordinator for approval. This procedure is detailed in the field manual.
Most organizations in which students are placed do not have funding to pay students for their work. However, if an organization has funding for student salaries or stipends, the student may accept this as long as the student’s role as learner remains primary. The student may not accept a regular staff position in the organization and count this as field.
Students are expected to approach their field placements with openness, flexibility, and commitment to engaging in the learning experience. If the field instructor has concerns about the student’s learning experience, performance, or conduct, s/he should first discuss these concerns directly with the student and document the discussion. If the concerns persist, the field instructor should contact her/his field liaison for assistance. If the concerns cannot be satisfactorily addressed by this process, the field instructor may contact the field coordinator to request assistance in resolving the concerns.
Although field instructors and field organizations have the right to terminate a student’s placement, they are expected to take time and care with this process. Students are learners and can be expected to make mistakes. Hopefully, students are receiving consistent supervision and feedback and have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and improve their performance. If the student engages in a behavior which can be characterized as unethical or misconduct, the organization does have the option to contact the Field Coordinator and provide notification of termination of placement. The decision about whether to reassign the student to another field placement is made by the field coordinator after consultation with the student’s Academic Committee.