Challenges in Undergraduate Social Work Field Supervision
Field education in social work is an essential component, which provides students crucial learning experiences. Equally important, field education is also an educational process, which allows social work educators evaluate students’ competency in real case situations. In practice, field supervisors usually are primarily responsible for carrying out such important role to evaluate students’ competency. This paper reports challenges faced by field supervisors. Data were collected from a mail-out questionnaire survey with 254 undergraduate field supervisors with a school of social work in Canada of who 190 (75%) responded. Results of this study indicate that field supervisors faced with five types of challenges, namely problematic students, overloaded self, non-responsive school, distanced faculty liaisons, and non-supportive work environment. About all, approximately 40% of respondents encountered problematic students. Since the respondents reported they were overloaded, one may wonder what the implications are when an overloaded field instructor has to deal with a problematic student with limited support from the faculty, the agency, and the faculty liaison. Implications to social work field education in terms of how could schools of social work and field placement agencies, including field supervisors, evolve mechanisms assuring that field instructors will have the preparation, required time and energy to supervise students.
Keywords: Social Work Field Education, Field Supervision
Dr. Dora M.Y. Tam
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Carleton University
Dr. Siu Ming Kwok
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, King's University College at the University of Western Ontario