The Department of Social Work seeks to provide a stimulating and challenging field practice for social work students. Towards this end, a field coordinator is appointed to serve as a liaison with field practice agencies, as well as the link between students and fieldwork supervisors. The Field Coordinator is responsible for the planning, implementation and coordination of the fieldwork placement. Such responsibilities include maintaining an adequate complement of field agencies of varied service opportunities; orienting and providing ongoing educational resources for field supervisors and students.

The Field Coordinator would work with appointed faculty members who serve as Department tutors once in two years, to ensure the maintenance of good links between the field agencies and students for the purpose of social work field education. The responsibilities of the Department Tutors include coordination of orientation programme for supervisors and students, monitor students' adjustment to the field agencies, mark the field practice assignments and finalise the students' grades.

Fieldwork agencies are invited based on their ability to support the objectives of social work education, with specific reference to the aims of fieldwork placement. These selected agencies would provide support to their staff members, as well as social work students. Such support would enhance the educational opportunity for students and improves the quality of the supervisory experience, since fieldwork placements take place within the agency contexts.

Support for Staff Members who are Fieldwork Supervisors

The agency would propose suitable candidates to serve as fieldwork supervisors and permit adequate time for these fieldwork supervisors to plan and develop meaningful placement opportunities, in accordance with fieldwork aims.

The agency would allow time for fieldwork supervisors to attend field instruction trainings and meetings during agency hours.

Support for Social Work Students

The agency would provide appropriate physical arrangements for students, such as desk space, use of telephone, access to facilities for counseling and recording.

The agency would reimburse students for travelling expenses incurred on field assignments, such as home visits. In addition, agency would reimburse students for expenses incurred in the course of implementing approved agency services/ projects. In the event that such an arrangement is not possible, it is advised that students be informed of it at the beginning of fieldwork placement.

The role of Field Supervisor is that of an educator in the field. Therefore, the responsibilities of the Field Supervisors include creating and maintaining a conducive learning environment, by supporting students in applying classroom knowledge to field practice. In addition, Field Supervisors would be accountable to the Department of Social Work for evaluating students' performance in placement, as well as highlighting to the Field Coordinator, should there be difficulties encountered in supervising their students. They are encouraged to participate in sharing sessions concerning field placement organised by the Department of Social Work. They are also invited to join the research seminars to be better informed of new development in social work.

In view of the important role that Field Supervisors play in educating social work students, it is important that the following are being considered by the Department of Social Work in their invitation of suitable candidates as Field Supervisors:

(i) The Field Supervisor is committed to the mission, values and ethics of social work profession.

(ii) The Field Supervisor should have at least 4 years of social work field experience, with social work qualifications.

(iii) The Field Supervisor has demonstrated competency in the field of practice used for placement

In some instances, students could be receiving task supervision from an agency personnel with a degree in a field related to social work, such as counseling. This would happen in situation where students are assigned assignments in different services/ programmes, or units within the agency. The student may be assigned a task supervisor for the services/ programmes, or units within the same agency, so as to provide hands on supervision. Despite the arrangement of task supervisor, the student would still be required to meet weekly with his/ her supervisor with social work qualification, and this supervisor is responsible for the student's placement.

Individuals who wish to supervise students on placement could approach the Field Coordinator to learn more about the expectations and requirements as a Field Supervisor. New Field Supervisors are required to attend training sessions organized by the Department of Social Work, so as to facilitate a good understanding of students' classroom learning, as well as gain knowledge/ skills on field supervision.

The following are proposed to enhance students' learning during field placement, namely, learning contract; learning opportunity/ assignment; supervision structure and suggested fieldwork placement activities.

Learning Contract

There will be a learning contract between the students and Field Supervisors concerning students' learning objectives, as well as tasks assigned to meet the objectives. It would be helpful for both the Field Supervisors and students to constantly review their progress, with reference to the learning goals and tasks. (Please see Appendix C: Learning Contract).

Learning Opportunity/ Assignment

The field supervisors should offer practice assignments in accordance with the fieldwork aims and specific learning experiences appropriate to each student. Generally, it is expected of students to do the following for first and second placement respectively:

First Placement Learning Opportunity Second Placement Learning Opportunity
  • 2-5 cases and
  • Short term projects
  • At least 1 home visit opportunity for each case
  • Face-to-face supervision on the cases held by the student
  • 2-5 cases and / or
  • Short term projects / Groupwork / Community work / Research projects
  • Home visits for all the cases held by the student
  • Face-to-face supervision on the cases held by the student

It is important to offer first placement students the opportunity to do casework as their written assignments require their submission of process recording. Second placement students could be offered different learning opportunities, such as involvement in community work and research projects.

Supervision Structure

Field Supervisors are expected to hold regular weekly individual/ group supervision sessions with students, so as to support them in managing the tasks set out in the learning goals, as well as guide them in integrating theory with practice. It is expected that students receive a minimum of 20 hours of individual supervision sessions during placement.

It is important for Field Supervisor to recognize the effort of students and to support them when they encounter difficulties. Such support could be rendered through provision of a conducive environment for students to discuss their difficulties. Field supervisors could facilitate discussions to help students gain greater insight to the difficulties encountered, leading to professional growth and development. Where casework is concerned, Field Supervisors could observe students in practice and provide feedback to students concerning skills and casework management, whenever possible, with due considerations to the ethical requirements.

It is helpful to provide corrective feedback in the earlier stages so that students could learn from their mistakes. In addition, provision of help to students should lead towards greater competence and independence, instead of greater reliance for help, which is in tune with our social work beliefs.

Suggested Fieldwork Placement Activities

(Early Placement, Mid Placement to Late Placement)

Good planning and clear understanding of field placement activities at different phases facilitate the process of good field experience for both the field supervisors and students. The following are suggestions for the kinds of placement activities to be conducted:

Phases Fieldwork Placement Activities
Early Placement

(i) To conduct orientation programme concerning the following:

- Gain an appreciation of the mission and nature of work at agency,

- Meet the Head and staff of agency

- Administrative procedures and expectation of students in terms of dressing, punctuality, working hours etc.

(ii) To discuss supervision-related issues, such as supervision structure, schedule and style of supervision

(iii) To discuss learning-related issues, such as learning objectives and tasks assigned, content of evaluation form

(iv) To have student submit the Learning Contract to the Department of Social Work within the first two weeks of field placement, jointly signed by the student and Field Supervisor

Mid Placement

(i) To discuss progress of students in relation to the learning objectives and tasks assigned, and explore the need to adjust learning plans, if any.

(ii) To have student submit the Mid-Placement Feedback Form (Please see Appendix B: Mid-Placement Feedback Form) to the Department of Social Work not later than one week after the mid-point of the placement, jointly signed by the student and Field Supervisor

Late Placement

(i) To prepare student for termination of field placement, which include the following activities:

- Proper documentation and recording of work done, informing clients of termination plan

- Reflection of Fieldwork experience in relation to fieldwork aims and learning objectives

(ii) To conduct fieldwork evaluation session and provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of student as a student social worker

(iii) To recommend a grade for student in the Evaluation Form and submit the Evaluation Form (Please see Appendix D: Student Fieldwork Evaluation Form For First Placement & Appendix E: Student Fieldwork Evaluation Form For Second Placement) to the Department of Social Work not later than two weeks after the end of the placement, directly to the Fieldwork Co-ordinator

(iv) To review with student concerning suitable nature for the second placement, if it is the first placement

As supervisors, we have responsibility for structuring the supervisory sessions which we have with our students (or with the junior or trainee staff for whom we are responsible). In order that they may learn effectively, we must be aware of the particular learning needs which individuals may present, their response to the learning situation, and the educational help which is required.

If we are to ensure that the goals, foci and expectations which we have for our supervisory sessions with students are in line with their learning needs, it is essential that we have a means of evaluating these. The keeping of supervisory records makes such evaluation possible. These should include:

(i) Brief notes on student's academic and work background and learning needs as perceive at the beginning of the placement.

(ii) Your overall plan for building up the student's skill and experience during the placement; your short term and long term goals, and the method(s) by which you propose to achieve these.

(iii) Individual summaries of supervisory sessions. These should include your intended goal(s) for the particular session; the reasoning behind such a selection; intended content of the conference; account of actual content; reasons for any deviation from original plan; estimate of learning achieved; plans for next sessions.

It is expected that the supervisory sessions will, in the main, centre around discussions of a student's own materials. You may want to refer to Appendix F: Guide to Making Educational Diagnosis for making an assessment of a student's learning needs.

Responsibility to Agency

Students on placement would be working on projects/ managing casework in the agency setting. As such, they are expected to demonstrate professionalism in carrying out various activities, as well as conforming to agency's policies and practices. Students are advised to manage with care the agency's facilities and equipments. In the event that there is any damage caused by the student to such facilities and equipments, the student is expected to bear the cost for repair/ replacement.

If a student is working in a secondary setting, e.g., school, he/ she is responsible for keeping the supervisor informed of his/ her work.

Responsibility to Clients

Students will be supervised by the Field Supervisor in managing their work with the client system. Students are to observe ethical requirements in case management and recording, in order to protect the confidentiality of the clients.

Responsibility to Fieldwork Supervisor and Towards Learning

Students are to work closely with their Field Supervisor in meeting the field placement aims and managing the assigned tasks. Students are encouraged to be proactive in the learning process, by taking initiative to discuss observations, issues of concerned and difficulties encountered.

Responsibility to Social Work Profession

It is important for students to observe the Code of Professional Ethics during placement, by being mindful of one's ethical responsibility to clients, colleagues, practice setting, society, as well as ethical responsibility as professionals and to the social work profession. Such responsibilities include "not discussing the case outside the professional context", "Before making a video/audio recording, informed consent from the client must be sought in writing." Social work students can refer to SASW Code of Professional Ethics for greater understanding of the professional responsibilities and ethical commitment. (Please see Appendix G: SASW Code of Professional Ethics).

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