An essential element of social work education is applied learning and demonstration of competence in practice. Field education is widely considered to be the “signature pedagogy” for the profession of social work.

Our field education program is designed to extend and integrate learning achieved in class with practice in the field of social work. Through field education, students have an opportunity to employ social work interventions and ethical decision-making processes with different client populations at multiple levels. 

Students work with established social workers in partner agencies across Iowa and in neighboring states, giving them access to diverse and meaningful practice experiences under the mentorship and supervision of experienced professionals.

COVID-19 Safety in Field Settings - 2022

As we go into the spring semester seeing COVID-19 cases on the rise, we want to make sure everyone knows about options available to them and who has authority for what.

  • COVID-19 Protocols:
    • Students in placements are expected to comply with agency COVID-19 protocols.
    • The University of Iowa strongly encourages everyone to wear a mask in public and to get vaccinated and boosted when eligible.
  • Learning Contract:
    • Students must demonstrate every Competency and Practice Behavior on the learning contract during their practicum or field experience. This includes some active “doing” and some more passive learning/observing.
    • Students collaboratively create their learning contracts with their field instructors and, if applicable, task supervisors. The field instructor must be able to evaluate the student’s competency in social work practice at the end of the term, which means they must have opportunities to see the student’s work. This may be through skill demonstration, compiling a report or training for staff, through reflection on learnings in a journal that is discussed with the field instructor, etc.
  • Virtual or Remote Learning Activities:
    • The School of Social Work does allow students to complete remote or virtual learning activities.
    • Options will vary by agency. Here are some ideas to consider:

      Remote Activity Options by CSWE Competency
    • Remote learning is an option for students who may experience a disruption in their placement and need to make up some hours. The student should be mindful that they need to complete activities for each Practice Behavior to demonstrate at minimum basic competence. If, for example, a student misses many hours of learning activities to develop competence in engaging with and assessing individuals, they will need to work with their field instructor to create a plan to develop and demonstrate those competencies
  • Required Hours:
    • Because of COVID, the School reduced minimum required field hours. Temporarily reduced requirements, in italics below, are through Spring 2022 only.
    • Seminar attendance can count as 15 hours of the total required.
    • BASW Field Experience: 340 hours minimum (325 minimum in placement) – Regularly 400 hours
    • MSW Foundation Practicum: 180 hours minimum (165 minimum in placement) – Regularly 210 hours
    • MSW Advanced Practicum – Regular program: 300 hours minimum per semester (285 minimum in placement) – Regularly 350 hours per semester
    • MSW Advanced Practicum – Advanced standing program (for students who have a BSW): 215 hours minimum per semester (200 minimum in placement) – Regularly 350 hours per semester

Proactive and honest communication between student and field instructor is key; if a student has questions or concerns about completing their placement due to COVID-19 or other situations, they should speak to their field instructor and/or task supervisor to be clear on their options and expectations.

Your field coordinator can help you think about creative solutions as a group, and your field administrator is available to answer questions and clarify University, School of Social Work, and Council of Social Work Education policies.