Social Work has a long history of combining practical and classroom learning.
One of the guiding principles articulated in our accreditation standards states "The integration of knowledge, values and skills in the context of field education is a critical and distinctive aspect of social work education; therefore, field education is considered the central component of social work education." (CASWE, 2012, Principle 5, Standards for Accreditation, pg. 4)
The school provides experiential education opportunities where students learn from practitioners in human services settings.
Students are helped to integrate classroom and textbook learning with real life practice activities. Placements are in community or institutional settings where social workers engage in direct practice with individuals, communities and families, or address social issues through community development, policy analysis and development or research. The Canadian Association for Social Work Education requires all undergraduate programs to provide a field placement (also known as a practicum) for social work students. For more information, please refer to the practicum section of our Field Practice Manual 2015 2016.
We have over 100 community partners who help us provide social work education to approximately 140 McMaster social work students per year. Students are placed in community agencies throughout the Hamilton, Halton, Brant, Niagara and Haldimand-Norfolk area.
Placement Course and Integrative Seminars: SW 3D06/3DD6 and SW 4D06/4DD6
At McMaster, BA/BSW and BSW students are required to do two placements, one in each of levels three and four of the program. Each placement consists of 390 hours and involves students going to social work settings where they are instructed by qualified and approved field instructors. The placement is not work-study, nor a co-op, nor an internship, but a course that is guided by educational objectives. Students receive six credits for each of the two placements.
The placement courses, SW 3DD6 and SW 4DD6, have a co-requisite, an integrative seminar, SW 3D06 and SW 4D06.
Students must take the integrative seminar and the placement at the same time. Students must pass the placement and receive a C+ in the integrative seminar. Prerequisites are: SW 2A06, SW 2B03, SW 2BB3.
- SW 3D06/3DD6 are offered either in a 13 week summer block or concurrently for 26 weeks starting in September.
- SW 4D06/4DD6 are offered either in a 13 week fall block or concurrently for 26 weeks starting in September.
The Field Instruction Team
Field Instructors are social workers who are employed in human service organizations. Normally, they will have a social work degree, at least two years work experience and have taken a field instructor course. They are responsible for orienting the student to the placement, co-constructing a learning agreement, providing weekly instruction, supervision, and completing a mid-term and final evaluation of the student. They work closely with the school and the placement agency to facilitate student learning.
The SW 3D06 and SW 4D06 Seminar Leaders are faculty members in the School of Social Work who teach the integrative seminar, help negotiate the placement "match" and function as liaisons to each placement. They work closely with the students, the field instructors and the school to ensure that learning objectives are being met in the placement. They help to problem solve any placement concerns and are responsible for grading the seminar and the placement.
Details about most of the placements offered by community agencies are available on Community Connections, the School's placement database. Community Connections is an interactive website which will allow our students, field instructors and agencies to review and submit information online. This direct connection allows us to keep the information regarding student placements as current and accurate as possible. Students’ evaluations of the field placements are also located in the School of Social Work office and are available for review.
Placement Changes or Updates
If you are a registered and approved field placement setting and want to review your placement or change or update the information available to students, please contact the Administrative Assistant, Lorna O'Connell, in the School of Social Work office ext 23795 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to offer a field placement, contact the Administrative Assistant in the School of Social Work office ext 23795 or email@example.com. You can also contact the School of Social Work Faculty Field Coordinator, Janice Chaplin at ext. 23780 or firstname.lastname@example.org.