The Impact of Remote Social Work Field Placements on Academic Performance


  • Neil Hall Western Sydney University


field placement, international, rural, remote, academic performance


In an attempt to measure the impact of rural and international placements on students’ academic performance, this article compares the trends in average marks of social work students completing final placements across three different sites (Pacific Islands, Rural NSW and Sydney) over the past four years. Trends show some quantitative differences across the sites that are not necessarily addressed within other literature on the topic.
To complement the quantitative data, some basic qualitative data were gathered from participants in the remote placement programs to give insight into students’ perceived factors in the academic performance of the different cohorts.


Ashencaen Crabtree, S., Parker, J., Azman, A., & Paul Carlo, D. (2014). Epiphanies and learning in a postcolonial Malaysian context: A preliminary evaluation of international social work placements’ International Social Work, 57(6), 618–629.

Auslander, G. K., & Rosenne, H. (2016). Data mining for social work students: Teaching practice-based research in conjunction with a field work placement. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 36(1), 52-69.

Ballantyne, N. (2008). Multimedia learning and social work education. Social Work Education, 27(6), 613–622.

Barton, H., Bell, K., & Bowles, W. (2005). Help or hindrance? Outcomes of social work student placements. Journal of Australian Social Work, 58(3), 301–312.

Biggerstaff, M. (2005). Social work ethics online: Reflective learning. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 23(3/4), 245–257.

Brown, J., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organisational Learning and communities of practice: Toward a unified view of working learning and innovation. Institute of Management Services [online]. contents

Bazeley, P., cited in Burke Johnson, R., Onwuegbuzie, A. J., & Turner, L. A. (2007). Toward a definition of mixed methods research. Journal of Mixed Methods Research, 1, 112.

Cleak, H., Anand, J., & Das, C. (2016). Asking the critical questions: An evaluation of social work students’ experiences in an international placement. British Journal of Social Work, 46, 389–408.

Esteves, J., & Pastor, J. (2004). Using a multimethod approach to research enterprise systems implementations. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 2(2), 69–82.

Flynn, C., Brydon, K., Kornhauser, T., & Grimes, E. (2014). Preparedness for field education placement: social work students’ experiences in Papua New Guinea. Journal of Social Work Education, 3(4), 435-450.

Fox, M. (2017a). The international field placement: A reconciliation of identity. Social Work Education, 36(5), 495–507.

Fox, M. (2017b). Student isolation: The experience of distance on an international field placement. Social Work Education, 36(5), 508–520.

Hall, N. (2015). Delineating the learning process in generating a research culture among undergraduate social work students: A case study of student participation in an academic conference. Social Work Education, 34(7), 829–845.

Han, J., Pei, J., & Kamber, M. (2014). Data mining: Concepts and techniques, Elsevier Science. ProQuest Ebook Central. Retrieved from

Hickson, H., Theobald, J., & Long, N. (2015). Supporting social work supervisors and students in field education. Advances in Social Work & Welfare Education, 17(2), 100–105.

Hosken, N., Green, L., Laughton, J., Van Ingen, R., Walker, F., Goldingay, S., & Vassos, S. (2016). A rotational social work field placement model in regional health. Advances in Social Work & Welfare Education, 18(1), 72–87.

Jones-Mutton, T., Short, M., Bidgood, T., & Jones, T. (2015). Field education: Off-site social work supervision in rural, regional and remote Australia. Advances in Social Work and Welfare Education, 17(1), 83–97.

Lough, B. J., Moore McBride, A., & Sherraden, M. S. (2012). Measuring international service outcomes: Implications for international social work field placements. Journal of Social Work Education, 48(3), 479–499.

Maidment, J. (2006). Using on-line delivery to support students during practicum placements. Australian Social Work, 59(1), 47–55.

Matthew, L. E., & Lough, B. J. (2017). Challenges social work students encounter in international field placements and recommendations for responsible management. Journal of Social Work Education, 53(1), 18–36.

McLennan, V., Boddy, J., Cartmel, J., & Chenoweth, L. (2012). Encouraging human services and social work students to “go bush” for clinical placement and employment. Advances in Social Work & Welfare Education, 14(1), 67–74.

Moore, L. L. (2012). Millenials in social work field education. Field Educator. Simmons School of Social Work Practice Digest, 2(2), 1–5.

Noble, C., & Henrickson, M. (2011). Learning opportunities of social work group supervision and peer learning. In L. Smith & G. Reek (Eds.), Work field education and supervision across Asia Pacific (pp. 321–347). Sydney, NSW: University Press.

O’Sullivan, D., Ross, D., & Young, S. (1997). A framework for the use of competencies in rural social work field practice placements. Australian Social Work, 50(1), 31–38.

Oterholm, I. (2009). Online critical reflection in social work education. European Journal of Social Work, 12(3), 363–375.

Pawar, M. (2017). Reflective learning and teaching in social work field education in international contexts. British Journal of Social Work, 47, 198–218.

Plath, D., & Gibbons, J. (2010). Discoveries on a data-mining expedition: Single session social work in hospitals. Social Work in Health Care, 49, 703–717.

Ravulo, J. (2016). Pacific epistemologies in professional social work practice, policy and research. Asia Pacific Journal of Social Work and Development, 26(4), 191–202.

Riebschleger, J., Norris, D., Pierce, B., Pond, D. L., & Cummings, C. (2015). Preparing social work students for rural child welfare practice: Emerging curriculum competencies. Journal of Social Work Education, 51(sup2), S209–S224.

Walter, M. (Ed). (2013). Social research methods (3rd ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Wehbi, S. (2009). Deconstructing motivations: Challenging international social work placements. Journal of International Social Work, 52(1), 48–59.