Evaluating Social Work Education Outcomes: The SWEAP Field Practicum Placement Assessment Instrument (FPPAI)

By Christenson, Brian; Delong-Hamilton, Tobi et al. | Field Educator, Spring 2015 | Go to article overview

Evaluating Social Work Education Outcomes: The SWEAP Field Practicum Placement Assessment Instrument (FPPAI)


Christenson, Brian, Delong-Hamilton, Tobi, Panos, Patrick, Krase, Kathryn, Buchan, Victoria, Farrel, Dorothy, Harris-Jackson, Tameca, M University Ruth Gerritsen-McKane University of Utah Roy Rodenhiser, EdD Boise State University, Field Educator


Introduction

Field practicum education has always been an integral component of social work education and is recognized as having a major impact on graduates' preparation for professional practice. The fundamental philosophy, beliefs, structure, and processes of field programs have endured throughout the first century of formal social work education. The general social work competency requirements to be met by social work students during their field practicum are defined by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) through the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) of 2008. Although EPAS defines competency standards to be achieved by social work students within their field practicum setting, it is ultimately the responsibility of the accredited program to interpret and implement competency standards. The process of designing and implementing pedagogy that meets EPAS can be beneficial for social work programs, but it may also pose a challenge for programs to subsequently demonstrate the successful attainment of their pedagogical goals and objectives with their students.

Not surprisingly, responses to EPAS field standards and requirements vary considerably among social work programs. Typically, programs must demonstrate their attainment of field standards by providing the type, amount, and quality of activity required of the students in their field placements to demonstrate social work skill competency (Council on Social Work Education [CSWE], 2008). However, in the last few decades it has become increasingly difficult to consistently provide students with high-quality field experiences because of significant and critical resource changes in agencies, universities, and in the student body (Wayne, Bogo, & Raskin, 2006). Consequently, measures of the field experience must be chosen carefully to ensure appropriate validity and reliability across a diversity of agencies.

EPAS 2.3 describes Field Education as the "Signature Pedagogy" of social work education (CSWE, 2008). Specifically, "Signature pedagogy represents the central form of instruction and learning in which a profession socializes its students to perform the role of practitioner" (CSWE, 2008, p. 8). Field placements provide the students the unique opportunity to integrate theory and social work practice in the agency setting as an integral part of their overall social work education (CSWE, 2008). Like other components of the social work curriculum, bachelor/foundation level field education must be evaluated based on the 10 EPAS competencies and 41 practice behaviors defined by CSWE.

In an effort to address the need for accurate measurement of quantitative and qualitative data related to direct practice skills (guided by the 2008 EPAS), and at the request of numerous social work programs from across the country, the uniform, comprehensive, and standardized Field Practicum Placement Assessment Instrument (FPPAI) was developed. The FPPAI uses national norms to allow cross program comparisons according to program type. The Social Work Education Assessment Project (SWEAP) Committee (previously known as the BEAP Committee), added the FPPAI as part of a six instrument assessment package (Social Work Education Assessment Project [SWEAP], 2015). The ten primary competencies, along with the 41 Practice Behaviors, listed in the Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (CSWE, 2008) are the foundation for the Field Practicum Placement Assessment Instrument (FPPAI). The FPPAI focuses on both academic and non-academic measures of EPAS competencies. The authors report the findings of a three-year pilot study of the FPPAI as an outcome instrument for EPAS competencies related to critical thinking, values and ethics, diversity, social justice, history, policy, generalist practice, human behavior in the social environment, research, communication, supervision and social work practice skills through a development, pilot, and validation study (CSWE, 2008). …

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