Role of the MSW Field Educator and Task Supervisor

To ensure that all students in field placements receive educationally focused practice experience embodying social work knowledge, values and skills, each agency should provide an MSW field educator, with two or more years of practical experience, to coordinate, direct and supervise students’ field work. Field educators never are to view their role only as ‘signing off’ on students’ activities.

The College of Social Work prefers, but does not require field educators to be MSW employees in the same agency and program in which students are being trained. All field educators, whether employed in another part of the agency or in a different agency, will meet the expectations outlined below.

Although most agencies assign MSW employees to work one-on-one with interns, there are a variety of alternatives. Experienced MSW’s may coordinate internships (and meet with students at least one hour a week for full-time internships, or at least one hour biweekly for part-time internships) while agency supervisors without an MSW can provide daily task supervision. Group supervision is another alternative.

Role of the MSW Field Educator

The MSW Field Educator will:

  • Supervise interns in their fieldwork, overseeing the entire range of field experience.
  • Ensure interns’ activities are meeting field education objectives.
  • Within the first two to three weeks of internship, develop and sign the intern’s educational contract and make ongoing revisions as necessary.
  • Maintain regular contact with the intern and other agency supervisors involved in the internship.
  • Formally meet with the intern at least one hour a week (or one hour biweekly for part-time internships) for direct supervision.
  • The formal meeting will entail:
    • Requiring interns prepare an agenda for the conferences.
    • Giving interns feedback on their performance in a variety of ways (e.g., process recording, videotaping, audio taping, joint interviews, etc.).
    • Focusing on interns’ skill development.
    • Keeping notes of observations and interactions with the intern.
    • Case reviews.
    • Analysis of programs or policies.
    • The impact of gender or ethnicity on practice and policy.
    • The NASW Code of Ethics.
    • Theoretical analysis of social work interventions.
    • Evaluation of field educators’ own supervisory practices.
    • Evaluating the interns’ strengths and weaknesses.
    • Issues such as assertiveness, use of humor, rescuing, handling aggressive clients, coping with stress, etc.
  • Complete the interns’ midterm and final performance evaluation, returning them to the college by the posted deadline dates.
  • Become familiar with the College’s Office of Field Education Polices and Procedures.
  • Meet with the college’s faculty liaison at least once each semester during the interns’ internship.
  • Notify the field faculty liaison when problems arise.

Role of the Task Supervisor

Some agencies assign other human service providers or administrators to be an intern’s task supervisor. In these cases interns still must meet with MSW field educators at least one hour a week for full-time internship (or one hour every other week for part-time internship) for supervision and integration of classroom theory and learning with practice experience.

Task supervisors may be with specific, time-limited tasks or on a daily basis, directing day-to-day activities, teaching and guiding them in their assignments, and giving them feedback on their performance.

Basic expectations of all task supervisors include:

  • Participating in planning the internship.
  • Reviewing and signing the student’s educational plan, making revisions as needed.
  • Providing primary, direct supervision of the interns’ daily activities.
  • Assigning cases and projects congruent with students’ educational goals.
  • Orienting students to the agency and their assignments.
  • Giving on-the-spot positive and constructive feedback to students regarding their performance.
  • Focusing on the students’ skill development.
  • Keeping notes of supervisory contact.
  • Consulting with the MSW field educator related to the interns’ skill areas that need extra attention.
  • Preparing or helps in the preparation of the midterm and final evaluations of the interns’ performance.
  • Being familiar with the Office of Field Education Policies and Procedures.
  • Meeting with the MSW field educator and the School’s field faculty liaison at least once each semester of the students’ internship, to address progress being made.
  • Notifying field educators and field faculty liaisons when problems arise.
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