Field Experience

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Overview

The Social Work Program at Cedarville University offers a broad range of Field Experience opportunities at a variety of social service agencies in metropolitan and rural areas. The Field Experience process for the student follows an employment model in both the Field Experience courses. This is one of the significant ways in which the Program prepares the student for beginning Social Work practice.

There have been several courses developed to prepare and assist the student for a successful experience in field agencies. These courses include Total Immersion Experience (SWK-1100), Introduction to Social Work (SWK-2330) and Field Survey (SWK-2350). Each course is designed to aid the student in better understanding of what he/she can expect during the two Field Experience sequences, as well as the profession in general.

Total Immersion Experience

The Total Immersion Experience (TIE) is a pre-professional experience for any student who has an interest in Social Work. The student will shadow a social worker for one full week (five consecutive days) in order to better understand: 1) Social Work as a vocation and his/her feeling toward a Social Work career; 2) the vulnerable populations social workers serve; 3) the professional helping relationship; and 4) the agency setting. The requirements of the course are typically fulfilled during the student's summer break. (Available to non-majors)

Introduction to Social Work gives an introduction to the profession and the variety of social work practice. It includes a study of the historical development and professionalization of social work. This course develops the student's ability for critical thinking and group problem-solving, his/her commitments and values, and the skills needed for effective citizenship. (Available to non-majors)

Field Survey provides detailed exposure to fields of social work practice, the role of social work, and agency structure. There is a special emphasis on understanding the dynamics of the professional helping relationship given the client's membership in certain groups. This course allows the students to "get their feet wet" in human services. (Available to non-majors)

A minimum of 600 hours of Field Experience is required of all Social Work majors: 150 hours in the Junior year and 450 hours in the Senior year. The 450 hours in the Senior year meets the Council on Social Work Education's minimum requirement for Field hours. In addition, the Cedarville University Social Work Program requires 150 hours of Field in the Junior year in order to enhance the Social Work education of the students with an emphasis on poverty. Students are required to select a different agency for each year to ensure a broad and varied experience in the field.

Throughout the Field Experience program, continuous and intensive involvement provides students with a continuity of contact with the Social Work profession. Familiarization with routines and procedures gives the student a more solid identification and feeling of belonging with the agency, professionals, clients, and delivery systems. Each student has ongoing supervision from both the Field Instructor and the Field Director, addressing a variety of issues and needs such as progress, obstacles to growth, observations, etc. The Field Director serves as a pivotal linkage between the curriculum and field experience and the student. These relationships give the students consistent opportunities for feedback and input on how they can work more effectively as professionals. The Field Instructors are selected in accordance with criteria which comply with the standards of the Council on Social Work Education. The Field Experience Guide provides more complete information on the Junior and Senior Field Experience.

Junior Year

Junior Field Experience provides practical experience in a Social Work agency, institution, or department designed to complement the student's academic work and enable the student to apply theory to actual Social Work situations. The primary focus of the Junior student will be serving an indigent population. The student will have the opportunity to observe the social worker's role in the helping process, to have direct contact in agencies with a variety of individuals, groups, and/or community resource workers, to learn various preliminary Social Work tasks, and to share experiences with other students in small Field Seminar classes. The students will be expected to develop an initial self-assessment of their specific role in the helping process, perform at an introductory level the functions of the agency to which they are assigned, and put into practice primary Social Work skills. The course is designed to result in the development of competence in linking people with systems which provide them with resources, services, and opportunities, to develop skill in applying knowledge of human diversity in behavior and social environment, and to understand social work issues from a global/multi-cultural perspective.

Juniors fulfill their Field Experience requirement over two (2) semesters (Fall and Spring) within one (1) agency. The experience requires eight (8) hours per week for a minimum of 150 hours.

Junior students in Field Experience are responsible to a Field Instructor (social worker) with whom they meet on a weekly basis. Also, Juniors meet in small seminar classes with the professor one hour a week throughout the experience in addition to the 150 hours spent in the agency. These groups give the students an opportunity to share new knowledge, awareness, and reactions to their new field experiences with their peers and faculty on campus. (Junior experiences may be chosen by the Field Director.)

Senior Year

The Senior Field Experience is designed to provide the student with an opportunity to further integrate and apply knowledge and theory learned in academic courses to actual Social Work situations. In the Senior year, the student is expected to perform Social Work responsibilities equivalent to those of a new staff member in the agency, under close supervision of the Field Instructor. It is expected that the student will become aware of and analyze his/her own value orientations and feelings about people and the problems which they bring to social agencies. In addition, emphasis is placed on the acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the network of Social Work services in the community, and of learning techniques and skills common to Social Work practice, and an understanding of social work issues from a global/multi-cultural perspective.

Seniors will fulfill their required Field Experience during the Fall and Spring Semesters of their Senior year. They complete 225 hours Fall Semester and the remaining 225 hours during Spring Semester. This experience requires two (2) full days on Mondays and Wednesdays with any incomplete hours to be made up on Fridays of each week. Some examples would be a holiday, illness, or a snow day to be made up Friday of that week. It is expected that a student will remain in Field through their last Seminar class regardless of their accumulated hours.

The Senior Field Experience, similar to the Junior experience, is integrated with class work, especially in Social Work Practice with Special Populations (SWK-4210) and Social Work Practice with Communities and Organizations (SWK-4220) which students are required to take concurrent with Field Experience. This involves the integration of previously learned knowledge and experiences to maximize each student's cognitive and practical use of Social Work theory and practice. Seniors also meet in Field Seminar classes with the Field Director two (2) hours a week, in addition to the 450 hours spent in the agency, to discuss the above areas and to individualize their practice of Social Work.

Throughout the Field Experience program, continuous and intensive involvement provides students with a continuity of contact with the Social Work profession. Familiarization with routines and procedures gives the student a more solid identification and feeling of belonging with the agency, professionals, clients, and delivery systems. Each student has ongoing supervision from both the Field Instructor and the Field Director, addressing a variety of issues and needs such as progress, obstacles to growth, observations, etc. The Field Director serves as a pivotal linkage between the curriculum and field experience and the student. These relationships give the students consistent opportunities for feedback and input on how they can work more effectively as professionals. The Field Instructors are selected in accordance with criteria which comply with the standards of the Council on Social Work Education.