Social Work Field Exploration and Observation – SOWK 135
CG • Section • 11/10/2019 to 04/18/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020
Social Work Field Exploration and Observation is the study of social work practice and settings of practice. Topics in the course are centered on social work practice in places such as child welfare, schools, domestic violence shelters, hospice, hospitals, mental health clinics, assisted living facilities, and early intervention programs. Participatory observation of a professional social worker for a full work week is also included in this course.
Social workers practice in a variety of settings. This course exposes the student to different types of social work practice settings and prepares the student with foundational knowledge about the role of social workers. It includes a forty-hour observation in a social service agency shadowing a social worker who has a degree in social work or who is licensed in social work. This course will also introduce the student to some of the research examining different social work practices. This course is designed primarily for social work students who will receive a pre-professional experience in social work.
Measurable Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the SOWK135 course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior (CSWE Competency 1).
- Make ethical decisions by applying the standards of the NASW Code of Ethics, relevant laws and regulations, models for ethical decision-making, ethical conduct of research, and additional codes of ethics as appropriate to context.
- Use reflection and self-regulation to manage personal values and maintain professionalism in practice situations Demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and oral, written and electronic communication Use technology ethically and appropriately to facilitate practice outcomes.
- Use supervision and consultation to guide professional judgment and behavior. Diversity (CSWE Competency 2)
- Apply and communicate understanding of the importance of diversity and difference in shaping life experiences in practice at the micro, mezzo and macro level.
- Advance Human Rights and Social, Environmental and Economic Justice (CSWE Competency 3).
- Apply their understanding of social, economic and environmental justice to advocate for human rights at the individual and system levels.
- Engage in practices that advance social, economic and environmental justice.
- Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-Informed Practice (CSWE Competency 4).
- Apply critical thinking to engage in analysis of quantitative and qualitative research methods and research findings Use and translate research evidence to inform and improve practice, policy, and service delivery.
- Engage in Policy Practice (CSWE Competency 5).
- Identify social policy at the local, state and federal level that impacts well-being, service delivery and access to social services Assess how social welfare and economic policies impact the delivery of and access to social services
- Apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic and environmental justice. Engagement, Assessment, Intervention, and evaluation. (CSWE Competency 6, 7, 8, 9)
- Use conceptual frameworks to guide the processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and evaluation.
- Participate with inter-professional collaboration.
Textbook readings and lecture presentations
Course Requirements Checklist
After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.
40 Hour Shadowing Requirement
Students are to visit at least 5 human service agencies and find one that allows them to shadow a social worker for 40 hours. We prefer that you shadow at an agency with a BSW or MSW on site.
Students who want to shadow at a human service agency that has no social worker on site, can find an external/off-site social worker with a BSW or MSW who you can talk with over the phone, or sit down and talk to them for at least 2-3 hours (2-3 separate sessions). Like the SOWK 370 junior field and SOWK 470 senior field courses, if there is no social worker on site at the chosen social service agency, students may utilize, with the permission of the instructor, an external social worker for supervision. In this way, students can shadow at a human service agency for 40 hours, and virtually connect with an external social workers.
Discussion Board Forums (3)
Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to submit a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 350–450 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 150–250 words. Each thread and reply must follow current APA format. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E, F). Safe assign scores must not be over 30%.
Journal Article Reviews (3)
The student will identify 1 peer-reviewed journal article that reflects research applicable to the practice setting covered in the assigned module/week’s Reading & Study material and use this article as the basis of a 2-page review. The student must send the instructor a link to the full-text article to request approval at least 1 week prior to the assignment due date. In each review, the student must briefly summarize the purpose of the article, including the research question(s), methods used to examine the research question(s), and 1–2 key findings. The student will also describe 2 concepts he or she learned from the article and ask at least 1 knowledge-informed question about the practice setting. Each review must follow current APA format and include a title page and a reference page. The title page and reference page do not count towards the length requirement. (MLO: A, D)
Each quiz will cover the Reading & Study material for the assigned module/week. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain multiple-choice and true/false questions, and have a 15-minute time limit. (MLO: A, C, D, F)
40-Hour Field Experience
Students are to visit at least 5 human service agencies and find one that allows them to shadow a social worker for 40 hours. The student will choose a practice setting in which he or she can observe a social worker for a 40-hour time period. This setting must be a placement that is of particular interest to the student. At all times the student will demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior, appearance, and excellence in oral, written and electronic communication.
We strongly prefer that students shadow at an agency with a BSW or MSW on site. However, at rural and remote locations students may want to shadow at a human service agency that has no social worker on site. With the permission of their instructor, they can find an external/off-site social worker with a BSW or MSW who can talk with over the student via WebEx or by phone, or meet with in person, discuss social work functioning with them. Typically this would entail over 2-3 separate sessions. Like the SOWK 370 junior field and SOWK 470 senior field courses, if there is no social worker on site at the chosen social service agency, students may utilize, with the permission of the instructor, an external social worker for supervision. In this way, students can shadow at a human service agency for 40 hours, and virtually connect with an external social workers.
The assignments that go along with this experience are:
1) Shadowing orientation Video and quiz. (MLO: A)
2) Visiting a minimum of 5 human service agencies, to network and locate a shadowing agency. Complete attestation of 5 site visits.
3) The student will complete a form indicating an agreement between the student and the agency/social worker for the dates and expectations of the planned observation. If there are any special circumstances on the part of the student or agency, and/or the social worker is off site, the student must delineate these on the form. The student, the social worker, and agency contact submit to the instructor. (MLO: A).
4) Agency Choice Form, including the name of the BSW/MSW social worker (MLO: A).
5) Chronological Report, (MLO: A, E, F).
6) Evaluation Form, (MLO: E, F).
7) Written Reflection Paper. ((MLO: E, F).
8) Shadowing a BSW or MSW social worker for 40 hours. The social worker guides the social worker to set up their shadowing activities, and to observe issues from a SW perspective. This supervision and consultation will guide your professional judgment, perception and behavior in your shadowing site.
(Note: If a social service agency doesn’t have SW on site you may utilize a remote one.) This includes two (2) hours of conversation with your Social worker concerning your observation of the following: (MLO: A, B, C, D, E, F).
- social, economic and environmental justice
- ethical use of technology,
- inter-professional collaboration,
- holistic competence (including knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes).
- Service delivery of: Engagement, Assessment, Intervention, Evaluation.
The student will complete the Chronological Report which is a collection of daily journals indicating what activities he or she observed and/or participated in as well as the length of each activity. The journal must be double-spaced and include a heading above each entry specifying the day of the week. The student must write 200–300 words in each day’s entry for a total of 1,000–1,500 words. (MLO: A, F)
8. Evaluation Forms
The student will provide the agency/social worker with an evaluation form at the beginning of the observation. The agency/social worker will complete the form to evaluate the student. The student will also complete a separate evaluation form as a self-evaluative tool. Thus, the student will submit 2 copies of the form: the one completed by the agency/social worker and the one completed by the student. (MLO: E)
9. Written Reflection Paper
After completing the observation, the student will write a 4-page paper in current APA format that reflects on his or her shadowing experience. The student will have 1 week from to the end of his or her observation to complete the paper. The paper must include at least 3 references. At least 1 of these references must be a peer-reviewed journal article. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E, F)
10. Thank you note
After completing the observation, the student will write a handwritten thank you note and mail to the site. Student will submit scanned thank you note and stamped addressed envelop into the courseroom.