FIELD PRACTICUM IN THE SOCIAL WORK CURRICULUM
A. General Perspectives
Field practicum is an independent and integral sequence of the Master of Social Work
curriculum. By means of selected, organized opportunities, and guided by educational
objectives, the field practicum seeks to validate, apply and integrate the knowledge,
theories and concepts of the social work practice being learned throughout the
curriculum. In this process, the student is engaged in experiential learning which
requires him/her to bring together and to integrate for professional use: cognitive
learning, professional values, and activities which will enhance skill and critical analysis
of social work practice.
Field practicum takes place in selected and approved agencies and centers which
represent a wide range of social services. These field placements are approved on the
basis of the quality of their professional practice, their commitment to addressing social
work problems, and material resources available. Field instruction is provided by field
instructors who may be agency employees, qualified contract social workers, or faculty
members of the School of Social Work. Field instructors must meet the School of Social
Work standards as detailed in this Manual. All approved field instructors are considered
by the School of Social Work to be educators rather than supervisors when working with
the students. Field instructors must be approved by both the agency providing the
placement and the School of Social Work.
The field instruction process is selective, organized, sequential and individualized within
the framework of a particular social service agency and in congruence with the goals and
expectations of the school. This educational process is expected to include:
1. direct interventions with individuals, families and non-related groups;
2. 2) indirect practice interventions enabling social, organizational or
3. 3) diversity of modalities, populations, treatment issues; and
4. 4) range of theoretical and teaching methodologies and models.
All these are to be presented and practiced within an environment of appropriate
professional values and ethics.
Field practicum provides for building on previous life and work experience as well as for
the development of new areas of professional competence. During this process, a mutual
effort is undertaken by the student, the field instructor, the agency and the faculty field
liaison to maximize learning within the opportunities available.
Each placement in field practicum is made on an individual basis which takes into
consideration the following: stipend requirements, if any; geographic location; previous
experiences; future goals and professional interests; and special needs.
Though field experiences vary with agency-specific circumstances, they must meet
school expectations and criteria, and they are monitored by designated faculty field
liaisons who provide consultation and assistance for evaluation. The Field Practicum
Coordinator is administratively responsible for all field assignments. The
responsibilities and entitlement of all parties in field practicum (school, faculty field
liaison, agency, field instructor, and student) are defined in the placement contract. In
addition, the Field Practicum Manual incorporates the school's major administrative
policies and procedures regarding field practicum. This Manual is used in the orientation
of new field instructors and is available to all as a continuing reference.
B. Field Practicum Mission Statement
The overall objective of the MSW field practicum is to prepare students for advanced
clinical / direct social work practice. Students should have the ability to use a broad range
of modalities in a variety of settings. This exposure and ability will be developed in
harmony with the student’s future career plans. The Field Practicum Mission Statement
supplements and is consistent with the Mission of the School of Social Work.
C. Field Practicum Objectives
Upon completion of the graduate social work program, students will:
1. have integrated the knowledge taught across all foundation curriculum areas with social
work practice, within a supervised field practicum experience.
2. demonstrate and promote personal and professional growth.
3. have learned generalist practice skills with individuals, small groups, families,
organizations and communities, demonstrating social and economic justice for
populations at risk.
4. have developed advanced clinical practice skills, including assessment, differential
diagnosis and treatment.
5. be able to incorporate social work values and ethics in dealing with conflicting issues
6. demonstrate sensitive intervention to and skills in dealing with religious, cultural and
socially diverse groups, oppressed groups, ethnic minorities of color, women and
persons with disabilities.
7. understand and work within the structure, function, and policies of an agency service
delivery system and understand how to promote change within that system.
8. be able to critically examine and evaluate one’s own clinical social work practice.
D. Field Practicum Prerequisites
Graduate students are expected to complete a series of Field Practicum Orientation seminars
conducted Autumn quarter. The purpose of these seminars is to emphasize to Regular
Standing (two-year) students the importance of field education in the social work curriculum
and methods used for integrating course and field content. They also learn field practicum
policies and procedures at the Walla Walla College School of Social Work as do Advanced
Standing students who may have learned different procedures in their various undergraduate
social work programs. Carefully selected topics on supervision, values and ethics, licensure,
spirituality and practice, and a field practicum fair provide a learning base for students
seeking a placement. MSW students in their foundation year begin their placement in their
second quarter following basic generalist courses in:
SOWK514 SOWK Historical Development of Social Welfare
SOWK517 Social Work Practice
SOWK524 Human Behavior and the Social Environment I
SOWK537 Social Work Research
MSW students in their second year begin their placement upon completion of their first year
field practicum or upon completion of a BSW degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA from an
accredited social work program. Each MSW student interviews with the Field Practicum
Coordinator to ensure their readiness and appropriateness for specific placements.
E. Student Placement and Monitoring
Students begin the process for securing a field practicum placement upon acceptance into
the graduate program. The Field Practicum Application form is sent to each student with the
School of Social Work acceptance letter. Upon the receipt of the Field Practicum
Application form and attached resume, the Field Practicum Coordinator contacts the student
to begin discussing placement options. Agency Information Forms are filed in binders
available to students who are seeking a placement. The agency selections chosen by the
student are discussed with the Field Practicum Coordinator (see Process for Securing a Field
Practicum Placement chart on p. 1). The Field Practicum Coordinator and student contact
each agency and arrange for an interview with agency director or designee. If there is a
match, the student is assigned to a faculty field liaison and placement begins. If there is not
an appropriate match, the student and Field Practicum Coordinator meet and the above
process is repeated.
Foundation year students interview and are placed into a practicum winter quarter following
first quarter classes, field practicum orientation seminars, and signing of Statement of
Understanding contract which states they are familiar with pertinent areas of this Manual.
Advanced standing students begin practicum the first quarter they are enrolled. All second
year students enroll in field practicum concurrently with their second year practice classes.
Students are monitored by the assigned faculty field liaison. The liaison meets with students
at their agency twice the first quarter in a new placement and once each subsequent quarter.
They meet more often when needed. The purpose of these visits is to discuss student
progress and plan for their educational experiences. Students also attend an optional weekly
Field Practicum Seminar conducted by the Field Practicum Coordinator.
All students must take a core of foundation courses during the first year, except those who
have completed the core curriculum at the undergraduate level and have been admitted with
advanced standing. Advanced level students will begin their classes in the summer
preceding the second year of the program, thereby completing the graduate program in four
quarters instead of six quarters (two years). The program offers several areas of practice
emphasis (see Field of Practice Electives list on next page). The Walla Walla College
Graduate Bulletin contains a complete list of courses with descriptions and prerequisites for
1. Required Courses
Core Courses First Year
SOWK 510 Cultural and Ethnic Perspectives of Social Work 3 3
SOWK 514 Historical Development of Social Welfare 3 -
SOWK 517 Social Work Practice I: Individuals 3 -
SOWK 518 Social Work Practice II: Groups 3 -
SOWK 519 Social Work Practice III: Families 3 -
SOWK 520 Social Work Practice IV: Communities 2 -
SOWK 524 Human Behavior and Social Environment I 3 -
SOWK 525 Human Behavior and Social Environment II 3 -
SOWK 530 Field Practicum 6 -
SOWK 537 Social Work Research 3 -
SOWK 538 Research Applications in Social Work I 1 -
SOWK 539 Research Applications in Social Work II 1 -
SOWK 542 Dysfunctional Behavior in Clinical Social Work 3 3
Core Courses Second Year
SOWK 508 Social Work and Religion 2 2
SOWK 540 Advanced Clinical Evaluation or SOWK589 3 3
SOWK 589 Advanced Research Methods
SOWK 541 Advanced Practice 3 3
SOWK 544 Policy Analysis and Advocacy for Clinicians 3 3
SOWK 545 Advanced Clinical Treatment of Families 3 3
SOWK 530 Field Practicum 12 12
Electives to be chosen from Field of Practices List 15 20
Total 80 52
FIELD OF PRACTICE ELECTIVES
Addictions SOWK 562 Clinical Skills with Addictive
SOWK 377 Introduction to Alcohol and Families
Addiction Treatment Aging
SOWK 560 Clinical Treatment in Addictions SOWK 531 Death and Dying
SOWK 561 Physiological Effects and SWOK 535 Social Gerontology
Pharmacology of Alcohol and SOWK 554 Intergenerational Relationships
Drugs SOWK 571 Aging and Health Care
SOWK 571 Aging and Health Care
Child Welfare SOWK 572 Clinical Treatment in Mental
SOWK 547 Children at Risk Health
SOWK 550 Protective and Substitute Care SOWK 575 Clinical Practice of Crisis
of Children Intervention
SOWK 551 Family Violence
SOWK 552 Clinical Treatment of Children School Social Work
and Adolescents SOWK 464 Children at Risk
SOWK 560 Clinical Treatment in Addictions SOWK 550 Protective and Substitute Care
SOWK 580 Services to Families with of Children
Children SOWK 551 Family Violence
SOWK 552 Clinical Treatment of Children
Children and Family and Adolescents
SOWK 500 Topics: Clinical Issues in SOWK 555 School Social Work
SOWK 546 Clinical Treatment in Sexual Theory
Abuse SOWK 466 Comparative Theories of Social
SOWK 547 Children at Risk Work Practice
SOWK 550 Protective and Substitute Care SOWK 557 Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
of Children SOWK 558 Cognitive and Behavioral
SOWK 551 Family Violence Therapies for Social Workers
SOWK 552 Clinical Treatment of Children SOWK 559 Reality Therapy
and Adolescents SOWK 566 Object Relations Theory
SOWK 554 Intergenerational Relationships SOWK 568 Gestalt Therapy
SOWK 556 Play Therapy
SOWK 562 Clinical Skills with Addictive
SOWK 471 Human Sexuality
SOWK 500 Topics: Interpersonal
Communication for Social
SOWK 543 Social Work Administration and
SOWK 553 Legal Aspects of Social Work
SOWK 563 Grantsmanship
SOWK 567 Self-care for Social Workers
SOWK 573 Advanced Groupwork
SOWK 574 Social Work Supervision
SOWK 578 Stress Management
SOWK 579 Directed Research/Project
SOWK 589 Advanced Research Methods in
SOWK 590 Thesis
Health and Mental Health
SOWK 551 Family Violence
SOWK 570 Social Work Practice in a
Walla Walla College School of Social Work Graduate Curriculum Plan
All Classes are scheduled two days a week. Part time students may schedule classes for one day a week.
Sequence 1 Year Required Courses 2nd Year & Advanced Standing Required Courses
Practice Social Work Social Work Social Work Social Work (Dysfunctional Advanced Advanced
Practice I Practice II Practice III Practice IV Behavior must Practice Clinical
(Individuals) (Groups) (Families) (Communities be taken before (You must be in Treatment of
& or with Practicum while Families
Organizations) Advanced taking this
Research Social Work Research Research Advanced
Research Applications in Applications in Clinical
Social Work I Social Work II Evaluation
(You must be in
Policy Historical Policy Analysis
Development of and Advocacy
Social Welfare for Clinicians
Human Human Human Dysfunctional
Behavior Behavior & the Behavior & the Behavior
Social Social (may be taken
Environment I Environment II 1st year)
Non-Sequence Cultural & Social Work & Cultural & Electives Electives
courses Ethnic Religion Ethnic Minimum of 5
Perspectives (may be taken Perspectives credits must be
(may be taken 1st year) clinical practice;
2nd year) one must be a
Field Practicum Field Practicum Field Practicum Field Practicum Field Practicum Field Practicum Field Practicum Field Practicum
*this information can be found in the graduate bulletin
Credit Distribution is as follows: Regular Standing (2 year program) Advanced Standing (1 year program)
Required Courses 47 20
Advanced Clinical Practice Electives (one must be a “t” course) 5 5
Other Electives (may be Adv. Clinical Practice or General) 10 15
Field Practicum 18 12
Total 80 Credits 52 credits
G. Integration with Courses
Field instruction provides the opportunity for the student to engage in selected
and organized activities--with or on behalf of clients--that apply the social work
skills, knowledge and values learned in the classroom. These include: knowledge
about social welfare programs and issues, the dynamics of human behavior,
relevant social work research, methods of service delivery, and intervention skills
Integration is, and should be, a two-way process that flows in both directions.
On one hand, field practicum is expected to provide both "in vivo" experiences
relevant to academic content, and the student is expected to share course
information with the field instructor for the purposes of planning and integration.
Field instructors are given an orientation to the School of Social Work curriculum
and are provided with course outlines, syllabi, assignment requirements, etc., as
Under supervision, students function as practitioners assuming full professional
responsibility for the service they provide to clients and client systems.
student is expected to utilize relevant field material in course work through
class discussion and case presentations. These must be accompanied by two
1) the protection of client confidentiality; and
2) avoidance of the class instructor "supervising" the student's field case.
order to make possible integration of learning in concurrent field and class,
constant collaboration between agency and school is necessary. Administrators,
field instructors, classroom teachers, students and faculty field liaisons need to
share in, and have time for, those activities which will enhance the quality of the
total educational program.
Master of Social Work student enrolls in field practicum as part of the first
and second year core requirement.
H. Administrative Standards
The student is expected to be in attendance in the agency on days designated for
the field and to observe agency hours and schedules. Absences must be promptly
reported and must be made up to meet the required number of clock hours in field
practicum. Extended absences must be discussed by the field instructor with the
student's faculty field liaison. The field practicum schedule follows the college
calendar; therefore, school holidays which fall on field days do not have to be
made up, but agency holidays which are not observed by the college do. The
agency may not require the student to be in placement on a non-field day.
Variations in schedule--evening or extended hours and/or make-up time--are to be
negotiated individually with the field instructor.
Students are expected to complete the clock hours for the number of credits
they have registered for spread equally across the quarter. Any exceptions
must first be approved by the Field Practicum Coordinator. (See Appendix G for
Field Practicum Time Sheet.)
2. College Credit
During the first year, the student registers for field practicum for which tuition
must be paid according the number of credits they register. In the second year,
the number of credits (and corresponding tuition) is increased because of the
increased number of hours spent in field practicum. The student may register for
a limited number of field credits during the summer preceding the second year.
The awarding of a grade is recommended by the field instructor and assigned by
the faculty field liaison at the end of each quarter, but must be approved by the
Field Practicum Coordinator. In order to receive credit for field practicum, the
student must not only meet school field objectives, but must also satisfy
placement agency requirements.
The student is formally evaluated at the end of each quarter in three areas: 1)
as a learner, 2) as a practitioner, and 3) in relation to the agency, community and
profession. Objectives for students in the field practicum are defined in the Field
Practicum Manual. Formal evaluations are shared with the school and constitute
the basis for awarding a grade. The student is also evaluated informally by the
field instructor throughout the course of the practicum, and participates
actively in the process. Satisfactory performance in both the beginning and
advanced--first and second year--field practicum is required for all students
earning the MSW degree.
I. Agency - School of Social Work Relationship
It is in the interest of both the School of Social Work and community social
service agencies to affiliate as partners in the process of social work education.
The School receives the advantage of on-site practical education for students in
agency settings as part of the total MSW curriculum. Agencies gain access to new
and developing knowledge, research, and practice wisdom from contact with
students and faculty.
In this two-way process, each has responsibilities to the other as noted below:
1. The School of Social Work's Responsibility to the Agency:
a. Consults on the assignments of students to the agency to ensure
opportunities for students that also fit the agency's service functions.
b. Provides the field instructor with information about the student, the
curriculum, and school policies; assists the field instructor through
consultation and conferences.
c. Designates a member of the faculty to serve as liaison to the agency.
d. Plans periodic meetings for field instructors and faculty to integrate field
instruction with the total curriculum.
e. Informs field instructors of their privileges within the college community
(i.e., library use).
f. Provides formal training to new field instructors.
2. The Agency's Responsibility to the School of Social Work:
a. Agrees to provide an environment free of discrimination for students in
field practicum with regard to race, color, gender, age, creed, ethnic or
national origin, disability, or political or sexual orientation.
b. Recognizes students as developing professionals who should not be
assigned to inappropriate tasks.
c. Provides a qualified field instructor who has sufficient time and resources
to develop student learning experiences; prepare and conduct individual
student conferences; attend school-sponsored meetings; and prepare
d. Provides adequate facilities / equipment appropriate to the student's needs.
To formalize the relationship between the School of Social Work and each
participating field agency, a Statement of Understanding agreement is attested to
by appropriate representatives of the School and the Agency. (See Appendix M)
J. Human Diversity
Considering human diversity in field practicum education is a key dimension in
promoting the success of students in social work. Designing a field practicum
program sensitive to diversities in the following areas: Race, ethnic, cultural,
class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical/mental ability, age and
national origin, involves careful examination of the placement process, the agency
context and the role of field instructor, faculty field liaison and student.
Giving attention to prevalent themes about human diversity enhances the
educational assessment and the planned learning opportunities for the student.
Supporting the strengths of the minority culture provides a foundation upon which
students can master new learning.
It is through field practicum education that students are exposed to an affirmative
approach to human diversity centered on universally accepted values and goals of
social work including: the support of diversity, the uniqueness of the individual,
the concept of interdependence and the commitment of serving. This approach is
utilized in broad based activities in both the classroom and agency.