Engaging social work students in research-based field education with place-based community organisations
Keywords:Field Education, Social work, Research, Community Partnerships
Field education forms one of the fundamental pillars of social work training. The construction of this practicum around partnerships with place-based, not-for-profit organisations, though vitally important, remains challenging for contemporary social work. Historically, field education has been designed around students’ observation of clinical practice and interaction with clients within a supervised and structured environment. While this model empowers students to meaningfully interact with the clients, a sole reliance on this approach limits their understanding of the multi-faceted nature of factors that shape clients’ experiences of disadvantage. Pedagogical partnerships with community organisations and integrating research in field education practicum, will enable students to become critically aware of context-specific needs and socio-political structures within which social injustices occur. In this reflective article, framed within the lens of pedagogical partnerships, the authors maintain that place-based community partnerships, and work integrated learning within which students develop creative and innovative skills, is prioritised. Consequently, aspects of equity and social justice will be promoted. The authors reflect on the observations and lessons learned from engaging postgraduate social work students in a research-based (in form of an evaluation) field education practicum with a community organisation in Australia.
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