Baseline expectations of students
Prior to undertaking the field education units of study –of which the field placement is the foundation – students have successfully completed a number of prerequisite subjects. Based on successful completion of these subjects means students have attained the standard necessary to begin the field education component of the social work degree. This includes analytical skills, communication skills, social work theories as well as a broader knowledge base drawn principally from the social sciences and humanities.
The field education units of study provide the context in which students build on and develop skills and knowledge specific to professional social work contexts. Under the tuition of the field educator and within a specific agency context (field of practice) students are provided with opportunities (learning environment) in which they can learn- through modelling and observation –to enact professional behaviours, attitudes and values in practice. The role of the university in the field education units of study is to assist students to integrate the professional practice and university based knowledge. The university appoints a liaison officer, to each field education placement, whose role is to act as a link between the field educator, the student, and the university.
Variations between students and placements
The variables, which need to be taken into account when assessing the student practitioner against the practice standards include; the type of placement, the opportunities for learning that have been available in the agency to the student, the student’s initial knowledge/skills and the experience and areas of expertise of the field educator. For example, the expectations of a student undertaking their second placement will be higher than a student going into their first field education experience. Similarly, when assessing the student against the research standard it needs to be taken into account the extent to which their placement is research focused. The expectations of a student undertaking their placement in an agency whose primary focus is casework will differ from that of a student undertaking a placement in a research unit.