MSW: Master of Social Work

West Chester University

West Chester Campus

Reynolds Hall
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone: 610-436-2664

PASSHE Center City

701 Market Street, Concourse Level
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: 267-386-3015

Field Education - Roles and Responsibilities

The effectiveness of the Field Education program is dependent upon collaboration among the Graduate Social Work Department, the field practicum Sites/sites, the Director of Field Education, Faculty Field Liaisons, Field Instructors and the student and their fulfillment of respective roles and responsibilities.

Responsibilities of the Graduate Social Work Department

  • Provide curriculum content that prepares the social work student for direct practice with individuals, families and communities
  • Select and refer students with appropriate educational background, skills and professional social work commitment consistent with the educational experience being offered by the site
  • Advise students regarding policies and expectations related to the field education experience and of their obligations to abide by the policies and procedures of the field practicum site
  • Ensure that every student in field prior to beginning placement has obtained child abuse, criminal record clearances and professional liability insurance ($1,000,000 per claim and aggregate of $3,000,000 per occurrence) to be procured at the student's expense.
  • Provide an educational forum for Field Instructors that is focused on issues related to student development and the field education experience
  • Collaborate with the field site to ensure that the students' field instructional needs are being met by a qualified professional and, if not, the Program, in consultation with the site, will remove the student
  • Respect the field site's right to terminate a student from field for violation of site policies and procedures
  • Assign a faculty member to fulfill the Faculty Field Liaison responsibilities

Responsibilities of the Field Site

  • Interview, select and accept students for field placement who are determined by the site to be appropriate
  • Provide qualified Field Instructors who have the MSW degree and preferably two years of post-graduate professional experience
  • Provide orientation to the student on the social work site, its mission, purpose, functions and services, including safety policies and procedures
  • Allow the Field Instructor adequate time to prepare for and provide a minimum of 60 minutes of individual student supervision weekly, to complete in collaboration with the student mid- and final semester evaluations, to attend field instruction information sessions and seminars conducted by the Program and to meet at least once per semester with the Faculty Field Liaison and/or Director of Field Education
  • Provide adequate space and learning opportunities for the student to gain appropriate social work practice experience
  • Sign an Affiliation Agreement with WCU indicating acceptance of designated responsibilities

Responsibilities of the Director of Field Education

  • Develop and administer the MSW field education program
  • Identify, develop and evaluate field education opportunities throughout the region in relation to the program's mission and goals and accreditation core competencies
  • Visit prospective field sites and maintain relationships with field Sites including the selection of qualified Field Instructors
  • Coordinate the student placement process
    • Assess the student's professional development and learning needs
    • Refer the student to a field placement appropriate to the student's learning needs and the program objectives for field education
    • Confirm and finalize the placement with the student and the field site
  • Conduct orientation to field practicum for students prior to the start of placements, ongoing training for Field Instructors, and orientation, training and support for Faculty Field Liaisons
  • Consult with Faculty Field Liaisons regarding students' learning processes
  • Coordinate problem-solving and termination processes as necessary
  • Initiate and conduct periodic meetings with Faculty Field Liaisons to exchange information on students' learning needs in field and the field education program, policies and procedures
  • Coordinate all field-related activities, including the development of a field calendar

Responsibilities of the Faculty Field Liaison

  • Provide the primary link between the Graduate Social Work Department and the field site
  • Oversee, review and monitor the students' development and demonstration of the competency behaviors for the practicum course
  • Maintain regular contact with the student, Field Instructor and Task Supervisor (if applicable) and visit the field practicum site at least once per semester
  • Conduct field-related discussions in the Foundation/1st Field practicum course or three field seminars per semester with the section of Concentration/2nd Field practicum students assigned to the Liaison
  • Provide information about the curriculum content and policies and answer questions regarding student issues, learning needs or crises
  • Facilitate communication and mediate differences among the student, Field Instructor, Task Supervisor (if applicable) and practicum site
  • Review, provide feedback and grade two process recordings per semester (Foundation/1st field). Field Instructors for Concentration/2nd field students have the option of requiring process recordings
  • Evaluate, provide feedback and assign grades for the students' Learning Agreement, Mid- and Final semester evaluations, and assign a final course grade
  • Clarify program or practicum policies, procedures, events and curriculum issues for students, site Field Instructors and/or other site personnel
  • Serve as a liaison between the program and the social work site by conveying the program's practicum expectations to the field instructor, providing information regarding the MSW curriculum as it relates to field education, and support and develop the site's continued availability as a field placement for program students
  • Provide feedback regarding students' learning needs, problems and progress, field practicum sites, assignments and level of student to the Director of Field Education
  • Monitor employment-based field assignments to insure differentiation between field practicum assignments and paid employment assignments

Responsibilities of the Field Instructor

  • Assume primary responsibility for the student's field learning experience
  • Develop assignments that assist in meeting the student's learning objectives, ensures the quality of services and protects clients
  • Provide consistent, scheduled, in-person, Field Instruction/supervision at least one hour per week that includes administrative, educational and supportive supervision
  • Orient the student to the social work site, its mission, purpose, function and services within the community including safety policies and procedures
  • Collaborate with the student to
    • Assess learning needs
    • Develop the student's Learning Agreement
    • Periodically review the Learning Agreement to monitor the student's progress
  • Review and comment on the student's process recordings (two required in Foundation/1st field, optional for Concentration/2nd field) and other writing such as reports and documentation of services provided
    • Provide ongoing, mutual and continuous evaluation and feedback of the student's work with clients, development and demonstration of competency behaviors, and respect for social work values and ethics
    • Collaborate, review and discuss with the student the mid-semester and final evaluations
    • Provide feedback to the Faculty Field Liaison regarding the student's development and demonstration of competency behaviors, and respect for social work values and ethics
    • Alert the Faculty Field Liaison by phone, email or request for a meeting regarding any problematic behaviors or other issues that arise between liaison site visits
  • Attend program's orientation session for Field Instructors to become familiar with the MSW curriculum and the processes of field instruction
  • Complete the Seminar In Field Instruction (SIFI) series offered by WCU Social Work or by another accredited social work program
  • Collaborate with the Director of Field Education to:

Responsibilities of the Student

  • Complete and submit the Field Practicum Application to the Director of Field
  • Schedule and attend a meeting with the Director of Field to explore field practicum options that meet the student's learning needs and are appropriate to the student's stage of professional development
  • Interview at the proposed field site and communicate outcome of the interview to the Director of Field
  • Adhere to the field calendar, the placement site's schedule, personnel practices and work policies
  • Collaborate with the Field Instructor (and task supervisor, if applicable) to develop a Learning Agreement that includes: Professional Self-Reflection; Expected Practice Opportunities; Practice Vignette (Concentration field only); Supervision Expectations; Signatures
  • Participate with the Field Instructor (and task supervisor, if applicable) in self-evaluation for the Mid-Semester and Final Evaluations
  • Perform practicum assignments in a responsible and professional manner, including all required documentation and planned delivery of services
  • Actively participate in supervisory meetings by preparing an agenda, addressing issues related to practicum assignment, theoretical issues and/or related site concerns
  • Utilize supervision to identify needs, resolve barriers that might interfere with learning
  • Share academic material related to practicum learning, including relevant course syllabi, with the Field Instructor
  • Prepare and submit to the Field Instructor for review and comment two process recordings (required for Foundation/1st Field students)
  • Participate in placement site staff meetings such as all-staff meetings, student seminars, continuing education events, and case conferences
  • Maintain on-going communication with the Faculty Field Liaison
  • Maintain confidentiality of client contact, case records and other social work material. Obtain approval of the Field Instructor before using case material for class purposes. If materials are used for class, client identity must at all times be sufficiently disguised.
  • Maintain professional liability insurance throughout the field practicum courses.
  • Conduct themselves at all times in accord with the Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Work and with the WCU Graduate Social Work Standards of Professional Behavior and all policies contained in the WCU Graduate Catalog