Field Education

Field education is an important component of graduate social work education. The field is the laboratory where students can apply the social work knowledge base to practice. The field provides direct practice experiences with diverse client population guided by experienced MSW field instructors in preparation for clinical agency-based practice. 

In order to maintain a quality field education program in a changing field, we work diligently to follow five basic principles central to our Widener social work field program. 

  1. Integrated Model
    Core practice class teacher and field instructor supports students in applying knowledge.
  2. Individualized Placement Process
    Field (clinical) experience is compatible with student's work experiences, interests, location and goals. 
  3. Student as Active Adult Learner 
  4. Support for Continued Growth of Field Instructors
    Field instructors need for continuing development is recognized and taken into account. 
  5. Importance of a Well-Organized Field Program
    We strive to maintain partnerships or working alliances. 

Foundation Field Instruction 

Students will develop a working knowledge of the generalist practice model through a wide range of intervention skills for individuals, families, groups and communities that will generate solutions to intervention, case management, individual counseling skills, beginning group and family work, problem solving, meditation, advocacy, community organizations, and program planning.

Clinical Concentration Field Instruction

The second year field practicum focuses on expanding the student's clinical assessment, intervention and evaluation skills in the specialization of clinical social work. The overall objective of the advanced clinical practice sequence is to build upon the foundation sequence by enabling the student to develop her/his specialized use of self with different populations.

The clinical concentration field internship is three days a week for two semesters (720 hours). Second year field instruction days are typically Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. We also offer an alternative extended clinical concentration internship which allows students, who for compelling reasons cannot manage three days in the field, to do their field instruction two days weekly. 

In the extended internship, students continue field instruction into the summer session in order to meet the 720-hour field requirement.

Selection of Field Placements

Field placements will be selected that:

  • Conduct social work practice from a person-in-environment perspective. 
  • Conduct social work practice that remains consistent with the values, ethics, and principles of the social work profession. 
  • Reflect diversity in terms of client populations and practice experiences with special populations without discrimination with regard to sexual orientation, race, color, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability in the agency's operation. 
  • Provide the student with space and adequate learning assignments to gain social work practice experience. 
  • Provide the student with an orientation and a qualified field instructor who has agency time to supervise, meet with the faculty liaison, and attend supervisory training seminars. 
  • Sign an Affiliation Agreement with the University indicating acceptance of designated responsibilities. 

Selection of field Instructors

Field instructors will be selected that:

  • Have a MSW, have at least two years of professional agency practice experience, and are committed to the student's learning of knowledge, skills, and values of the social work profession; 
  • Provide a minimum of 90 minutes of individual supervision weekly with adequate agency time to orient, prepare, and train the student. 
  • Support additional learning, including meetings, teaching seminars, study groups, and selected professional committees. 

Worksite Practicum

Occasionally a student may need to fulfill the practicum experience at his/her same place of employment. Through careful planning with the Director or Assistant Director of Field Instruction, faculty liaison, and the agency, a student may have a practicum at her/his employment site. However, the student's practicum must be clearly differentiated from her/his work. If possible, her/his learning placement location, supervision, cases, practicum time, and learning tasks should be separated from her/his agency-related work space, cases, time, and tasks.

The practicum must be educationally focused in order for the student to gain sufficient practice experience in the application of theory and skills. The student must be in good academic standing and have a good employee performance evaluation at her/his agency.

The worksite agency must be supportive of professional social work education and have learning experience through the availability of a variety of populations and/or social work services.