MSW Field Education
The Field Experience
Field education is a vital and critical component in the training of Advanced Generalist social workers. Many students say it is the most meaningful learning experience. Students integrate classroom knowledge with real world social work practice with client systems.
During the field placement experience, students are expected to develop their ability to apply theory to practice, analyze their environment, and synthesize their theoretical knowledge with information acquired in the field. Further expectations include leadership development in assessment, planning, intervention, and evaluation of effective practice grounded in social work values and ethics. Students are expected to develop skills in affecting change at all levels within their communities, especially as these communities change and become more diverse. Field Instructors provide a vital link to accomplish this learning.
Download a Printable Version of the Field Education Manual
It is the responsibility of all persons involved in field instruction to be familiar with the manual, keep it handy as a reference and direct any questions to the MSW Field Education Director. We also welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvements to the Field Manual.
The Field Program is a partnership between the faculty and staff in the St. Cloud State Department of Social Work, the MSW student, the field placement agency and staff, and the larger social service community. By working together in this dynamic relationship, we can ensure a quality field program for our students.
Field Placement (Internship)
Students should begin thinking about where they would like to do their field experience upon learning of their acceptance into the MSW Program. This is especially true for students entering the program as Advanced Standing due to the expectation of the field experience beginning when the Fall Semester Begins. The Field Education Director can provide some guidance and assistance to students having troubles finding placement or with questions about placement. Upon securing a field placement, students should fill out the Agreement to Place Form and MSW Field Agency Contract, with the required signatures. For more detailed information about the process of finding a Field Placement, please see the Field Education Manual.
We have provided a list below with some field placements students have done in the past. However this list is not exhaustive and students interested in pursuing placement at agencies not listed are encouraged to do so.
Once you found a Field Placement
Once finding a suitable field placement, the following forms should be filled out and submitted to the Field Education Director:
For agencies which may have not have had St. Cloud State Social Work students in the past. The following form should be filled out and provided to the Field Education Director:
Each field placement site (i.e. agency hosting the intern) will have their own protocol for tracking an interns hours internally. For the Social Work Department's purposes, a student should submit their completed hours to their Integrative Seminar Professor at the end of each semester using the following forms:
At the conclusion of your field placement hours for both Fall and Spring semesters, the Student Evaluation of Field Placement form should be filled out at given to the Integrative Seminar Professor or Field Education Director.
The Learning Contract is a tool which is used throughout the student’s field placement. The structure of the Learning Contract acts aids students in two important aspects of their field placement: 1.) The student is able to create individualized goals specific to their interests; 2.) The document provides a road map for the student and Field Instructor which aids in ensuring the student’s learning objectives are met.
The student is the central person in the field placement experience and is expected to play an active role in planning and implementing their learning experiences in the field practicum. They are expected to actively seek out the types of learning experiences that will help them integrate their classroom learning and enable them to develop and expand their professional skills. The student is expected to mutually engage in this process with their Field Instructor.
Filling out the Learning Contract
Learning Contracts should be filled out during the first 2 to 3 weeks of a student’s field placement; and should be filled out in collaboration with the Field Instructor and Task Supervisor (if applicable). Learning objectives should be as specific as possible with measurable outcomes and the dates the student expects to achieve each object. Learning Contracts are used throughout the entirety of a student’s field experience, hence the Learning Contract should have objectives and outcomes which span the length of the field experience. After completing the contract, it should be signed by student, Field Instructor, Task Supervisor (if applicable) and then given to Faculty Liaison for signature. A typed version of the Learning Contract is preferred, however contracts filled out in ink will also be accepted.
Midterm & Final Evaluation
During the Midterm Evaluation, the Field Instructor and student should use the Learning Contract to assess the student’s progress towards the objectives and goals listed on the Learning Contract. The Field Instructor and Task Supervisor (if applicable) should fill out the Evaluation portion of the Learning Contract by giving the student a rating of Outstanding, Very Good, Average, Unsatisfactory, or Could not be Judged. The Field Instructor should also provide any comments in the comment portion of the Midterm Evaluation. There is an area provided for the student to give insight to their evaluation of progress as well.
A successful field placement experience is directly correlated with a strong and effective working relationship between the Department of Social Work and the field agency and staff. The collaborative nature of the partnership and the key role of field instructors and task supervisors cannot be emphasized enough.
Field instructors must have a MSW degree and a minimum of two years post MSW experience. One year of supervisory experience is recommended. It is the preference of the Department of Social Work that field instructors be licensed by the Minnesota Board of Social Work, or other appropriate jurisdiction if a student is placed out of state, although licensure for field instructors is not a requirement.
Task supervisors may be assigned to work alongside a MSW field instructor to provide support and task supervision for the MSW student. This may occur when the task supervisor has expertise in a certain area related to the student’s learning goals, but they may not have the MSW degree or qualifications to provide sole field instruction. A task supervisor may also be assigned when an off- site MSW field instructor has been approved.
By agreeing to host a MSW field student, agencies agree to follow the specific responsibilities listed within the field manual as well as review & complete the Field Agency Evaluation of Field Placement form below.
Forms for Unique Circumstances
The MSW Program seeks to respond to unique requests and circumstances related to the field placement process and experience. The forms listed below can assist in expediting student requests for these situations.