The Practicum Experience

The purpose of the fieldwork experience is to provide “hands on” practical experience in a human service agency, institution, and/or organization. Field experience is an integral part of the social work education, and is intended to complement the theoretical framework by allowing the opportunity to apply theory to actual social work situations. It is a regular part of the curriculum, and is viewed as a special kind of learning experience. Field placement provides students an opportunity to acquire an understanding of how social problems impact individuals, families, small groups, organizations, and communities. The placement enables students to learn the policies, regulations, and functions of social service agencies, networks, and community resources. Field placement allows the student to observe the social worker’s role in the problem solving process thus allowing them to learn beginning social work tasks and functions in preparation for generalist practice in social work. The field seminar provides an opportunity for students to share experiences with other field practicum students in a small group setting. Students have an opportunity to gain confidence via learning from both successes in working with agencies and through reflecting on their mistakes.

Students have several opportunities to grow as a social worker during the field experience through learning activities in the field and through Field Experience Seminar which is designed to facilitate student’s reflection in depth. Students write a learning contract agreement together with the agency instructor and director of field practicum. The learning contract should be taken seriously and given careful thought because it will serve as a guide for student learning goals and activities throughout field placement. The learning activities created are based upon the 2015 CSWE competencies and practice behaviors. The learning contract should fit with the student’s specific interests and reflect what areas of social work are most meaningful. The learning contract is the final evaluation instrument used by your agency instructor to measure success toward meeting your goal in field experience.