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Field Instruction in MSW program

Jane Addams College of Social Work

During field instruction, MSW students are placed in more than 400 social service agencies throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. Students are placed in two agencies-one in each academic year. First-year MSW students spend 15 hours per week over 30 weeks for a total of 450 hours in their placement. Second-year MSW students spend 21 hours per week in the field for a total of 630 hours.


Goals and Importance of Field Instruction

The goals of JACSW field instruction, in general, are: 

  1. Education of professional personnel to provide social services in urban areas.
  2. Provision of knowledge and skills for intervention with individuals, groups, families, communities and other systems in the restoration, maintenance and enhancement of social functioning.
  3. Development of a professional identity consistent with social work values.
  4. Development of skills in the evaluation of one's own social work practice and the practices of others.
  5. Experience with various clienteles, including diverse racial and ethnic groups and those populations at-risk or economically deprived.

MSW students are prepared to enter practice with advanced knowledge, values, and skills in one of four (4) areas of concentration. MSW education comprises two major parts: Foundational education for practice (the first year of the MSW program for full-time students) and education for advanced practice in a concentration (the second year of the MSW program for full-time students). 

Field instructors are essential to achievement of the purposes and objectives of MSW field instruction. The field instructor must be able to make an educational assessment of the student, including identification of the student's learning pattern and learning pace. A teaching plan is developed which individualizes the tutorial relationship, teaching method and pacing of content and performance demands. Individualization must achieve the standard of minimum performance competence and professional integration, which is to be met by all students. Field instruction provides integration of the educational experience directed toward competence. The successful accomplishment of this integration is achieved through clearly stated procedures in the selection of field agencies and field instructors, and in the evaluation of student learning. A successful program of field instruction requires specialized training for field instructors, as well as regular exchanges between the college, the field agencies and the individual field instructors. Participation of field instructors in curriculum development is essential.

JACSW provides the following support for its field instructors:  

  1. Workshops are available to assist new field instructors in defining and carrying out their role. Authorization to use the University library facilities.
  2. Authorization is given to use the university library facilities.
  3. Meetings to discuss curriculum development, including requirements of the Curriculum Policy Statement of the Council on Social Work Education, are held on a consistent basis.
  4. Colloquiums with nationally-recognized experts provide coverage of issues central to field instruction .