Field education (sometimes referred to as field practicum) provides hands-on training, and offers students the chance to explore interests, make mistakes in a supportive learning environment, and find their niche within the diverse array of social work career options. Field education is a tradition in the Social Work profession that separates us from other professions by the lengthy commitment of time given to the effort and by the strong legacy of mentorship that is nurtured through the relationships.
Research in social work education indicates that students report that their field experience is the most effective learning opportunity that they have in their graduate school education. It is in the field that students have the opportunity to integrate theoretical and research knowledge into a cohesive understanding of their profession practice. Learning opportunities in the field setting create teachable moments that have a great impact on student development.
According to the CSWE:
The intent of field education is to connect the theoretical and conceptual contribution of the classroom with the practical world of the practice setting. It is a basic precept of social work education that the two interrelated components of curriculum — classroom and field — are of equal importance within the curriculum, and each contributes to the development of the requisite competencies of professional practice. Field education is systematically designed, supervised, coordinated, and evaluated based on criteria by which students demonstrate the achievement of program competencies (1).
UMKC’s Field Opportunities
We are fortunate to have in Kansas City and surrounding communities a wealth of helping service agencies. We are privileged to have many of these agencies represented in our field education program. Our communities are committed to the preservation and development of human service agencies that provide a myriad of services to community residents. This commitment is evidenced by the number of volunteer hours that field instructors contribute to the training of MSW students. UMKC offers practicum opportunities from micro to macro level, across a variety of areas of interest in the field.
(1) Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)