The School of Social Work at the University of Nevada Reno believes that experiential learning is a central component of the educational preparation of students for entry into professional practice. Experiential learning occurs in various aspects of the program, but the core of such learning is the field practicum experience.
In 2008, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) recognized field education as the “signature pedagogy” of social work education. This means that, for the Social Work profession, field education is the characteristic form of teaching and learning. Field education prepares students for the “profession’s fundamental ways of thinking, performing, and acting with integrity”(Wayne, et al. 2010). This shift has elevated the field experience to equal importance as the classroom content and experience. The belief is that the critical blending of knowledge, skills, and values with practice applications is most effectively learned in field settings. Nationally and internationally, schools of social work strive to develop generalist and advanced generalist field education opportunities for students to demonstrate core competencies.
Ultimately, these opportunities aim to prepare students to practice with clients and in settings that are impacted by today’s complex social concerns. The integration of classroom knowledge with practice demands and practice wisdom is as important as it is difficult. In attempting to achieve this vital educational goal, we are indebted to our Field Instructors and the agencies that provide field practicum experiences. In our view, close collaboration among the Field Instructor, Faculty Liaison, and Field Education Program Coordinator (hereinafter Field Coordinator) promotes an effective program of social work field education.