Revisiting Field Education Standards

By Raskin, Miriam S.; Wayne, Julianne et al. | Journal of Social Work Education, Spring-Summer 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Revisiting Field Education Standards

Raskin, Miriam S., Wayne, Julianne, Bogo, Marion, Journal of Social Work Education

THE SOCIAL WORK LITERATURE has identified the many issues, concerns, and challenges that underlie the social work field education system (Frumkin, 1980; Globerman & Bogo, 2003; Jarman-Rhode, McFall, Kolar, & Strom, 1997; Lager & Robbins, 2004; Raskin, 1983, 1994; Rogers, 1995; Sheafor & Jenkins, 1982). It has been argued that changes to agencies, universities, and student bodies have made it difficult for many schools of social work to provide consistently effective field education programs that meet the current accreditation standards (Wayne, Bogo, & Raskin, 2006). This article contributes to the ongoing dialogue about ways to conceptualize, develop, and evaluate field education programs that would better educate our highly diversified social work student population.

The Need to Define Outcomes and Examine Accreditation Standards

The framework and foundation of field education remain largely unchanged since the inception of social work education in the early 20th century. In spite of contextual changes social work educators continue to seek ways to reinforce the status quo with increasingly prescriptive standards that formalize existing practices. It is time to assess their effects (Reisch, 2006). These standards are based more on tradition and the widespread assumption that they reflect the necessary components of quality field education than on evidence of their effectiveness. This article examines the historical development, rationale, and implementation of selected field education accreditation standards and identifies areas of needed change.

Field education directors have worked hard to deal with challenges to field education while working within the current framework required by the 2001 Council on Social Work Education's (CSWE) Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS). Responses to calls for radical restructuring are met with opposing responses. Some welcome the call for action (Bogo, Raskin, & Wayne, 2002). In private conversations with the authors, many colleagues expressed fear that the identification of weaknesses in current field education approaches would result in minimizing field education in the context of an increasingly scholarly, rather than experientially driven, academic environment. It is the authors' intention and belief that a critical examination of the status of field education can lead to measures that will increase its effectiveness for all students. The authors share the profession's historical commitment to the value of education that prepares graduates for the practice of social work and that goes beyond mere knowledge about the profession. The integration of agency-based practice experience into the educational process is an effective way to achieve such an outcome. Higher education theory and research continues to support this view (Bonwell & Eisen, 1991; Bruner, 1976; Dewey, 1966; Kolb, 1984; Meyers & Jones, 1993; Renner, 1999; Royce, 2001; Schon, 1987).

In an ideal world the development of all aspects of social work education programs would be based on widely accepted and clearly articulated educational outcomes that offer evidence of effectiveness (Gambrill, 2001). In studies of methods to evaluate educational outcomes for field education, researchers found both specification of learning objectives and evaluation tools to be variable and inexact (Alperin, 1996; Kilpatrick, Turner, & Holland, 1994). In contrast, national competencies for social work have been articulated in the United Kingdom, and schools of social work design their curriculum, including the field component, within this framework. More standardized approaches to the assessment of student learning are predicated on the clarity of educational outcomes.

The competency approach has been criticized for its tendency to break complex professional characteristics into discrete and atomistic behaviors, and for losing sight of the holistic nature of practice and qualities of professionalism such as judgment and analysis (Kelly & Horder, 2001; Skinner & Whyte, 2004).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Revisiting Field Education Standards


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?