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Field Education

Field Education Overview

Field education is a vital aspect of your Master of Social Work (MSW) program. The objective of field education is to ensure the field placement experience reflects the framework of the Faculty of Social Work, the curriculum goals of the MSW program, and provide an opportunity for you to apply the values, knowledge and skills learned in the classroom. The objectives for the field program are set to meet the standards set by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE) as outlined in the CASWE-ACFTS Standards for Accreditation.

Field education provides the opportunity to:
  • Practice and integrate foundational and advanced level social work values, knowledge and skills; and
  • Develop of a professional "self" and professional identity as a social worker.

As part of your field education, you will complete courses with approved agencies that provide micro, macro, or integrated learning opportunities. A qualified agency-based field instructor will provide supervision to help you to develop social work practice skills that reflect your foundational or advanced field education course. The field instructor becomes a source of learning for you in two respects:

  • The field instructor and other agency personnel serve as models of the professional practitioner at work; and
  • The field instructor facilitates students' development in areas including effective assessment and problem-solving, mastery of primary skills, values and ethics dilemmas and the development of a professional self.

Field Education Placements

The field education requirements vary between foundational and advanced placements. Foundational placements provide an integrated learning opportunity with a focus on both micro and macro social work practice. Advanced placements can focus on micro, macro or integrated social work practice areas. Placement options also include:

  • Workplace Placements: This is available for foundational or advanced placements.
  • International Social Work Education Program Placements: This opportunity is open to students in the full-time two-year program, part-time three-year program, or part-time advanced standing program.

Placement Standards

In keeping with the major goal of the Faculty of Social Work to permit each student to develop professional competence in general social work practice, field placements are provided in diverse settings in order for students to acquire the necessary tools to practice in a variety of social work environments. As such, placements are not planned based on students' career interests. Additionally, students cannot complete two MSW placements within the same type of social work learning environment or agency (i.e., two hospital placements, or two government placements, or two workplace placements).

An important aspect of the field is that students have opportunities to develop their potential. Ideally, they should be encouraged to explore issues of concern to them, initiate programs where appropriate and be creative in their problem solving approaches. Students should be fully engaged in the practice assignments and assume considerable responsibility for their own learning.

Practice Assignments

It is expected that students entering the MSW program at the advanced level have already been exposed to the continuum of social work practice and have developed foundational skills. Advanced field education placements include placements geared towards micro, macro or integrated skill development.

The curriculum is designed to offer theoretical and practical knowledge in four essential and interconnected social work practice areas:

  • Individual, Family and Group: Micro practice (e.g. private practice, counselling services).
  • Community: Integrated practice (e.g. counselling agency, hospital, community centre) .
  • Research: Integrated practice (e.g. centres for research focusing on micro and macro practice).
  • Policy and Organizations: Macro practice (e.g. social planning council, municipal government).

Since the first purpose of student practice is educational rather than service to agencies, student practice loads must be selective. Many agencies have found that students’ assignments can be from their field instructor’s regular caseload.

Contact Us:

MSW Field Education Office

E: mswfield@wlu.ca
T: 519.884.0710 x5269
Office Location: 120 Duke St. W., Kitchener, ON

MSW Field Education Coordinator (Acting)

E: Nancy Schwindt, MSW
T: 519.884.0710 x5230

MSW Associate Field Education Coordinator (Acting)

E: Roger Mainland, MSW
T: 519.884.0710 x5274

MSW Field Education Assistant

E: Caroline Hissa, MA
T: 519.884.0710 x5269