3.3 First Year Generalist Field Practicum and Seminar

First Year Field Placement

The structure of the generalist field education curriculum, completed in the first year of the MSW Program,is the same for all students regardless of their chosen area of specialization or other special program options. The first year field placement is designed to provide students with a range of generalist practice learning opportunities across the intervention cycle (engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation) and across the levels of social ecology (individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities).

Social Welfare MSW students are required to complete a total of 400 hours of generalist field practicum in the first year (combination of SOC WEL 410A in fall and SOC WEL 410B in spring). Students must successfully complete all generalist field education requirements, including required practicum hours and field integration seminars before progressing to the specialized placement in the second year.

First Year Field Placement Schedule

First-year field practicum days are Wednesdays and Thursdays, beginning in the fourth week of September and continuing until the end of the spring semester. Students and their agency- based Field Instructors work together to finalize the student’s schedule. Standard days are eight hours in length and do not include time for lunch or other breaks. Additionally, some field settings require students to begin placement before the semester begins or to continue on after the semester ends. In these instances, the relationship between the student and agency is voluntary and not subject to university requirements, policies, or protections although both parties are encouraged to continue to act ethically. For more information please see Section 5: Field Placement Time Requirements and Attendance Policies.

First Year Field Placement Activities, Tasks and Projects

Field Instructors collaborate with their students to develop and implement a Competency-Based Learning Agreement specifying the assigned field learning tasks, activities and projects that are intended to help students develop and demonstrate identified generalist social work practice competencies. The learning agreement provides the basis for periodic evaluations of student work. Field Consultants typically visit agencies in the fall or winter to review the learning agreements with students and Field Instructors.

Common modes of practice in these settings involve brief or supportive models of direct practice including clinical interviewing, intake assessment, case management, crisis intervention, and counseling with individuals and groups. Access is also available to a range of macro-practice activities such as meeting management, program planning, coordination, and evaluation, advocacy, policy analysis, or development functions. Field agency-based Training Coordinators and Field Instructors are encouraged to orient students to their agencies with a broad appreciation of the agency's place within the network of services. Practice tasks are organized, to the extent possible, to provide a wide range of practice experiences and continuity with a sufficient number of assignments for competency acquisition and reliable assessment.

First Year Field Seminar

Concurrent enrollment in field integration seminars is required each semester a student is in field practicum.

Foundation Field Integration Seminars (SOC WEL 290A in fall and SOC WEL 290B in spring), taught by Field Consultant faculty, are designed to prepare, enable, and support students as field learners. These generalist field integration seminars facilitate the development of holistic competence for MSW students as they make meaning from their experiences with agency practice, integrate social work knowledge, values, and skills, and form their professional identities as social workers.

Students in field seminars will participate in a wide array of activities and discussions to prepare to engage in multi-level social work practice with diverse populations. As a central part of the experience, the seminar cohort will establish the conditions necessary for a strong working alliance to enable group members to access support and feedback from peers. As students become oriented to agency-based learning contexts, they will be asked to contemplate common professional dilemmas and to develop integrative, complex problem-solving stances.

First year field integration seminars meet for at least two hours most weeks in the fall, and every other week in the spring. Cohorts and seminar leaders often remain together over the course of graduate study, providing a consistent base for learning and significantly enhancing the integration of academic and real world learning and students’ professional development.