Field placements and their impact on students’ journeys into professional practice

Abebrese-Mensah, Peter K. (2011) Field placements and their impact on students’ journeys into professional practice. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    Social work field placement is acknowledged to be vital in the training and development and crucial in the efficacy of the professional life of newly qualified social workers (NQSWs). This research critically examines field placements and their impact on social work students’ journeys into professional practice. It does this by evaluating the knowledge base and support for students: before, during and after field placements, opportunities for experiential work on placement and the major challenges faced by students during field placements. The data produced for this research were drawn from a ‘triangulation in research’ strategy which comprised 55 completed and returned questionnaires and interview schedules of two cohorts undertaking field placements from the social work degree programme in the School of Health Sciences and Social Work (SHSSW), University of Portsmouth (MSc. #30; BSc. # 25).

    The findings show that students possess sufficient knowledge base with good support going into placements. It also confirms the existence of some fair level of opportunities for experiential work, but a submission of incoherent expectations placed on students on placement combined with disjointed support from various stakeholders involved in field placements contribute immensely to the efficacy of the current field placements in social work practice. In response to these issues, the research proposes better communication, better understanding and better information sharing between all stakeholders in social work education and practice if they are to succeed in training the best NQSWs with a solid knowledge base, experience of good practice education that takes account of the diverse needs of individual students, the demands of the contemporary work environment and a dynamic FPET that is able to coordinate with systematic feedback, the efforts of both HEI and practice agencies involved in practice education.

    This may be achieved through honesty in professional accountability: a rigorous regime of supervision by a coordinated team of practice inspectors under the auspices of the HEIs and the regulating body for the social work profession. In addition, the HEIs may look into the possibility of introducing a new organisation culture/psychology module into the academic curriculum, to provide NQSWs with a better understanding of some of the modus operandi of the modern social work/work environment. Finally, it was argued that the above responses may come through only if students immerse themselves within the true values and ethics of the social work profession, while taking full responsibility for their own practice.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Science > School of Health Sciences and Social Work
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2011 16:26
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:41

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