Field instruction is an important and integral component of the undergraduate learning experience in Skidmore's social work program and can be summed up in three words: integration, application, and socialization. Under the supervision of an agency-based qualified field instructor, the student integrates knowledge gained in the classroom, applies it in an agency setting, and is socialized to the profession's value orientation. Students and faculty alike often view field work as the "heart" of social work education. It is the opportunity to test and validate what is learned in the classroom in an agency setting and is perhaps the most influential factor in the consolidation of a professional identity.
There are eight competencies that comprise the fundamental basis for beginning professional practice. These competencies are those recommended by CSWE and have been adopted as the social work program's objectives (described earlier). They form the basis for the field contract which the field instructor and student enter into at the beginning of field instruction.
Students complete their field placement in the spring semester of their senior year. Before enrolling in field instruction and seminar, students must have completed all other course work required for the major, fulfilled the volunteer requirement (40 hours of service completed in two different classes for a total of 80 hours), and completed the field application. Decisions regarding field placement are made by the field coordinator based on student input, academic and professional behavioral assessments, and discussions with social work faculty. The nature of the field experience requires that the department reserves the right to deny enrollment in the field practicum to any student if, in the judgment of the faculty, that student's academic, professional, or personal preparation for beginning social work practice is insufficient.
There are a variety of agency settings used as field placements where students integrate academic learning with practice experience. The program is fortunate to have a broad variety of field placement sites with very dedicated professionals who are willing to give their time and expertise in helping our students become beginning social work practitioners.
In accordance with CSWE standards, academic credit for life experience and previous work experience cannot be given, in whole or in part, in lieu of the field practicum.