Academic journal article Field Educator

Marion Bogo on Field Education

Academic journal article Field Educator

Marion Bogo on Field Education

Article excerpt

In this issue's Conversation , Trudy Zimmerman, Assistant Dean of Field Education at the Boston University School of Social Work, talks with Marion Bogo about the current state of field education. Marion Bogo is a Professor of Social Work in the University of Toronto's Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. She is also the Associate Editor of Social Work Education: The International Journal and the author of several books, book chapters and journal articles on social work education. In 2013, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) presented her with their Lifetime Achievement in Social Work Education Award. --Editor's Note

Bogo Zimmerman Photo

Trudy: Marion, thank you for agreeing to participate in the Field Educator Conversation . There is a lot to talk about. I'll try to focus our conversation on a few critical topics: your thoughts on what we can learn from current research in field education and your perspective in general about the state of field education. What are we doing well? What do we need to improve?

We could talk for three hours about the problems that all schools now face. We're all struggling to figure out ways of both holding on to the things that we value and that are working well, while also figuring out what new ideas we need to incorporate to ensure our students are learning what they need to learn. It's not clear to me that students today are learning everything they really need to learn.

Also, I have a particular interest in better understanding how students learn in the field, and then using that understanding to streamline our strategies to help students learn. I hope we can have an open, free-flowing conversation.

To get started, almost a decade has passed since your 2005 article in which you reviewed research pertaining to field education from 1999-2004 . What's new in field education research?

Marion: Quite a lot. First, as background, the basic evidence base for field instruction came out of adult education theory, social work values, and generic practice theory. When I look back at that literature, three field education principles stand out: 1. Learning takes place within a collaborative relationship; 2. Teaching and learning need to target individualized student learning interests and need to be situated within the framework of the particular school; 3. The importance of reflective discussions that focus on use of self.

Increasingly over the last decade or so, there's been a significant explosion in theorizing and research about learning for professional practice; it originates from general theories of learning, especially learning for the professions. In my more recent work, I've been very much influenced by what's going on in health sciences education.

Another area is implementation science--that is, how do we teach practitioners to offer evidence based treatments? Related to this, there is some very interesting research on how practitioners learn new skills.

Trudy: All very pertinent to learning in field education!

Marion: Yes, in addition, current research in cognitive neuroscience and learning has also changed my thinking on learning and teaching in field education. Specifically, students really need to see and be seen. I won't go into all of the research, but based on many studies it's very clear that students need role models. They need to see practice in action to be able to integrate theory--the intellectual ideas, the concepts--with how they actually look on the ground in practice.

Trudy: Could I stop you there for a second? Historically, it's been a big secret what students are actually doing, right? I remember Julianne Wayne talking with me about this years ago . She said the reason it is so difficult to evaluate student performance is that we never or rarely really see students perform. It's always inferred from the student's self report, from what they wrote, or sometimes from what other people told us about the student. …

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