Abstract: National Study (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

National Study

Friday, January 22, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Tamara Sussman, PhD, Associate Professor, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
Background and Purpose: A mixed methods study undertaken by students and postdoctoral fellows, with training and mentorship from faculty and partners, was used to begin a process for identifying more sustainable models of field education. A survey on the state of field education in Canada identifies field staffing, resources, and challenges experienced in social work field education programs across Canada. The survey is complemented with qualitative interviews with field education stakeholders to identify promising and wise practices. In addition, the impacts of COVID-19 on field education were documented using an online survey.

Methods: First, an online survey on the state of field education in Canada is being conducted. A survey link was sent to invite field education coordinators and directors in each school of social work in Canada (n=43) to participate (using Survey Monkey). Second, a survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on field education was designed and implemented by social work students. Survey Monkey was adopted to administer the survey during the COVID-19 pandemic. Third, interviews with key informants (n= 100) is used to provide direct practice understanding, knowledge, and information. Interviews are designed to identify, document, and exchange promising and wise practices in social work field education across Canada. Topics include: (1) Field instructor recruitment and retention; (2) Indigenous and anti-colonial field education; (3) Interprofessional practice; (4) International field education; (5) Official language in minority contexts; (6) Service user placements; (7) Research-based practica; (8) Field supervision models; and (9) Use of technology/simulation. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews examine the promising and wise practices of field coordinators, field instructors, and social work practitioners with respect to their roles in supporting social work field education. NVivo 12.0 is used for qualitative analysis. The study was approved by the University Research Ethics Board.

Results: The results of the national survey on the state of field education and the impacts of COVID-19 on field education will be shared in the presentation along with promising and wise practices as recommended by field education stakeholders.

Conclusions and Implications: The results of the study provide insight into the state of social work field education in Canada, an understanding of promising and wise practices adopted by field education stakeholders to address the challenges experienced, the results of which will inform the development of innovative and sustainable models for field education. The COVID-19 pandemic presented opportunities and challenges for field education programs in creating self-directed virtual placements.