Frequently Asked Questions From Field Instructors

Office Information

Social Work Field Education Department
Social Work Suite
Activities West, Third Floor
200 Riverway
Boston MA 02215

swfield@wheelock.edu
Tel: 617-879-2200
Fax: 617-879-2203

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1. What days are students expected to be in the field?
2. How are agency holidays, student illness, and/or snow days factored into my student's schedule?
3. Why is the Learning Contract so long?
4. Why do Field Instructors/Agency Supervisors have to sign weekly time reports?
5. How many hours should my student be in the field?
6. What are the expectations regarding Process Recording submissions?
7. What happens in the field seminar class?
8. How can I learn about other classes my student is enrolled in?
9. I have some possible concerns (tardiness, documentation, etc.) about my student, when is it appropriate to share my concerns with the Faculty Field Liaison?
10. I have significant concerns about my student, what should I do?
11. What type of support and training is available to me?
12. When and where are students expected to complete their Process Recordings?
13. How do I get my student started?
14. What should be happening in supervision? What are the requirements?
15. Does Wheelock have resources for students who may need mental health support?
16. Are there any resources on campus to support students with their writing?
17. I'm having difficulty getting in touch with my student's assigned Faculty Field Liaison, what should I do?
18. Are there any perks associated with being a Field Instructor?

1. What days are students expected to be in the field?

  • BSW students are typically in the field Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • MSW students do not have predetermined field days. The schedule is a collaborative effort between the student and the field instructor.

2. How are agency holidays, student illness, and/or snow days factored into my student's schedule?
Students are responsible for completing a minimum number of hours at their field practicum. These hours are dictated by the Council on Social Work Education, the accrediting body for social work programs and vary depending upon the student level:

  • BSW students are required to complete a minimum of 200 hours in the field per semester, for a total of 400 for the academic year;
  • MSW Foundation Year students are required to complete a minimum of 240 hours per semester for a total of 480 hours per semester; and
  • MSW Concentration Year students are required to complete a minimum of 360 hours per semester for a total of 720 hours for the academic year.

Students are required to make up field hours if an agency is closed for any reason or a student misses time at their placement due to personal reasons (illness, transportation, etc.) It is the responsibility of each student to make arrangements with his/her field placement site regarding their schedule. This includes planning in advance for holidays, inclement weather, and school breaks.

3. Why is the Learning Contract so long?
The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) is the accrediting body for all social work programs. It has established the 10 core competencies and 41 foundation practice behaviors as the threshold for professional competence. The practice behaviors operationalize the skills, values and knowledge critical for professional social work competency. Our Learning Contracts are constructed around these competencies and practice behaviors because these are what students are being be evaluated on.

The Learning Contract and End of Semester Evaluation are linked so that students are clear from the onset how their professionalism will be evaluated and their level of competence rated. We require a learning activity for each of the 41 practice behaviors so students can identify what social work behavior, skill and knowledge they are utilizing and why. Learning activities will typically touch upon multiple practice behaviors simultaneously; BSW and First Year MSW students and Field Instructors are reminded that a learning activity can be used across multiple areas, e.g., facilitation of a group (learning activity) will allow students to practice competency #1. Professional Identity and the related practice behavior of attending to professional roles and boundaries AND competency #7. Human Behavior and the related practice behavior of critique and apply knowledge to understand person and environment. After successfully attaining the practice behaviors in the Foundation Year, Concentration Year MSW students (2nd year) should be able to apply advanced practice behaviors that further actualize the Social Work Core Competencies with an emphasis on justice based practice.

4. Why do Field Instructors/Agency Supervisors have to sign weekly time reports?
The Student Weekly Report on Field form facilitates student reflection and documents the link between field learning and the 10 social work core competencies outlined by the Council on Social Work Education. In addition, the Student Weekly Report on Field form allows students to capture their weekly and cumulative field hours, and to have this time verified by their Field Instructor/Agency Supervisor. Field Instructors should not sign off on the Student Weekly Report on Field unless it has been reviewed for accuracy. If you have any concerns about the accuracy of the time captured in the weekly report, discuss it immediately with your student. If you have any ethical concerns, raise them with the student and advise their Faculty Field Liaison immediately.

5. How many hours should my student be in the field?
Please see response to Questions 2 and 4.

6. What are the expectations regarding Process Recording submissions?
Students are expected to complete one process recording for every week they are in their field placement AND submit seven process recordings per semester to their Faculty Field Liaison as part of their seminar class. The seven process recordings submitted to the Faculty Field Liaison are expected to have already been reviewed and commented on by the student's Field Instructor. Wheelock supports Field Instructors who require students to complete more than one process recording per week.

7. What happens in the field seminar class?
While engaged in their field placement, students enroll in a companion Field Practicum Seminar. In keeping with the Council on Social Work Education's emphasis on competency-based education and declaration of field education as the "signature pedagogy" of the social work profession, seminar classes emphasize social work competencies, practice behaviors and assist students in making deeper connections between theory and practice. Each student's seminar Instructor serves as their Faculty Field Liaison (FFL). FFLs meet on site with each Field Instructor and student to review progress toward goals and activities outlined in the Learning Contract. FFLs make themselves accessible to each student and Field Instructor by phone, email or via additional meetings, as needed.

8. How can I learn about other classes my student is enrolled in?
We encourage you to intentionally speak with your student about the classes they are taking and make it a part of your routine supervision agenda. Students can easily share their class syllabi with you and are expected to be integrating classroom learning into their field placement.

9. I have some possible concerns (tardiness, documentation, etc.) about my student, when is it appropriate to share my concerns with the Faculty Field Liaison?
It is never too early to share concerns or red flags with your student's Faculty Field Liaison. We also encourage you to speak directly to your student about concerns. Prompt, explicit feedback is essential for students to make the changes necessary to improve. We recommend you make note of the date and nature of your feedback. Documentation may assist in determining if a behavior is an isolated incident or if a pattern of behavior is emerging.

10. I have significant concerns about my student, what should I do?
Field Instructors should be in touch immediately with their student's Faculty Field Liaison about problems or circumstances related to student behavior or performance in the field. Our expectation is that a student will have the opportunity to engage in corrective steps to improve or resolve challenges through a field improvement plan. While we understand that there will be times that a field placement disruption is unavoidable, we encourage a process wherein a student is given a chance to hear, reflect on, and understand clearly the rationale behind the disruption so they can learn from it and continue to grow professionally.

11. What type of support and training is available to me?
Wheelock College is offering a Seminar in Field Instruction (SIFI). All Field Instructors, especially new ones, are encouraged to complete the SIFI. Wheelock's SIFI is free of charge and offers 20 CEUS. Participants must attend 80% of the sessions in order to meet the CEU requirements. Email us at swfield@wheelock.edu for dates and registration details. Wheelock is part of the New England Consortium of Field Educators (NECON). If you are unable to attend our SIFI, you may take one offered at another NECON member school. Please refer to www.neconsortium.com for SIFI listings and registration.

12. When and where are students expected to complete their Process Recordings?
Since Process Recordings are a requirement for the student's seminar class and not the field placement, students should not expect to be able to complete them at their field placement site. However, if a Field Instructor feels this would be a good use of their field time he/she can approve an allotted time for students to complete their Process Recordings while at their practicum. Completion of Process Recordings should never be included as a learning activity in correlation with a practice behavior. Process Recordings are tools to document a student's involvement with a client system, and are more appropriate as a measurement/method for learning and for discussion and reflection with a Field Instructor during supervision.

13. How do I get my student started?
We invite you to review the outline of suggested practicum activities in your Field Instructor Guide. An orientation to the agency and the role of the social worker at the agency is an ideal place to begin.

14. What should be happening in supervision? What are the requirements?
Field Instructors are required to provide one hour of weekly face-to-face supervision to students. Supervision is expected to be a blend of administrative, support and teaching activities. Collaborating on a weekly agenda outline is recommended. Topics may include student progress on learning activities, tasks and projects; challenges students are confronting in their work; making meaning of organizational culture; review of process recordings; and linking classroom learning to field. Students are expected to bring questions and observations to supervision and to receive timely feedback from their Field Instructor. We encourage you to utilize the lens of social work competencies and practice behaviors as you engage in supervision with your student. Naming social work skills, unpacking thought processes and socializing your student to the profession are some of the more pertinent components of field instruction.

15. Does Wheelock have resources for students who may need mental health support?
All registered undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to receive services at the Wheelock College Counseling Center, free of charge. The Center is staffed by professionally- trained counselors who are available to discuss personal and academic issues with students. In addition to providing individual counseling, the Center organizes a variety of groups which focus on specific issues, such as adult children of alcoholics, students with divorced parents, and a support group for graduating seniors. It also provides students with information concerning off-campus counseling and treatment resources. If you have concerns about your student, do not hesitate to share them with the student and with their Faculty Field Liaison and then, together, encourage the student to seek assistance from the Center.

16. Are there any resources on campus to support students with their writing?
Yes, Wheelock College has writing support services available to all students. Please share your concerns with your student and his/her Faculty Field Liaison so a recommendation can be made for the student to utilize the writing center.

17. I'm having difficulty getting in touch with my student's assigned Faculty Field Liaison, what should I do?
While we hope this will never happen, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Social Work Field Education Office Staff if you are unable to get in touch with your student's assigned Faculty Field Liaison.

18. Are there any perks associated with being a Field Instructor?
In appreciation for the learning experiences provided to our practicum students, Wheelock College issues one voucher per semester to the Field Instructor. Vouchers are valid for the three consecutive semesters (fall, spring, summer) immediately following the one in which the student has been placed at the practicum site. An individual may use no more than one voucher per semester. Vouchers are sent out at the end of each semester for the next, upcoming semester. Any employee within the agency may use vouchers where students are placed. They may not be transferred to a student.

Throughout the year we will keep you informed of any professional development opportunities our department may be offering. Wheelock is part of the New England Consortium of Field Educators (NECON) which hosts various professional development offerings throughout the academic year. Please refer to www.neconsortium.com for listings and registration.  

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