Inventory of Promising Practices


The use of unique practices for field supervision is a promising practice. This practice invites practitioners to consider creative field supervision strategies in field education.

Practice 1:

Including more voices in field education, such as service users and multiple field instructors

Having more than one supervisor per student can provide students with a better range of training and experience, and facilitates the division of tasks between supervisors.

  • “At the {Name of Organization}, and this may not be possible in other places, but it’s common for students to have multiple supervisors, so you will be supervised in the course of your practicum, probably by five or six different people at different times just because of the logistics. You know the therapists aren’t always there when the students are there, so you get a chance to kind of learn from multiple supervisors rather than just one.” (Interview Participant, Prairie Region)
  • “And we see our mandate as a practicum placement to give students the widest experience [and] exposure to the greatest number of practitioners and their styles. Not because we want any of the students to copy, but what we find is when they are exposed to many different styles and ways of practicing. It gives them the confidence to see that no two people are the same and that they have to develop their own. We are not carbon copies of each other, and then also how to develop that confidence to doing things that are in line with our own philosophical and theoretical orientations.” (Interview Participant, Prairie Region)
  • “Having an opportunity, maybe in the few weeks into a practicum or at the midway point, with like the team lead or the manager to get a different sense of what it is because frontline work versus leadership work is quite different and the expectations are often, well overall the same. Frontline work you know, you’re […] doing your work to get it done, whereas leadership’s looking at a more macro level. So, I think having that opportunity to either – whether it’s sitting with that person or I think you like here myself of several of our staff have volunteered to take on students that I would love if they, you know could shadow me or were interested to shadow me for a while to see some of what I do from the other side. Even though it’s still, I started in frontline work so that really does help build the kind of uniqueness or perspective that you can bring to a leadership role for social work.” (Interview Participant, Prairie Region)

Practice 2:

Adopting creative and multiple supervision strategies (individual and group, working meetings, e-supervision) that reduce workload demands on field instructors and increase peer accountability

Group supervision in practicum allows for increased student confidence with working with peers, reduces workload demands on the supervisor through increased peer accountability/collaboration, and can address field instructor shortages.

  • “When I say shared supervision, some of that was because I was part-time, so my CEO, like, we’ve managed to make sure the student was always supported if I wasn’t in the office. But then we started group supervision periodically with my other colleague, which was so fantastic. As supervisors like her and I both talked about how lovely it was to be in that room and hear from each other’s students, and what they were learning and experiencing. And so, we measured it out so that you still did your individual supervision and had that protected time, but every other session, for example, would be a group session. It was just this really lovely learning opportunity for everyone, especially because we had two students who are MSW, but one was a BSW. So, we also got these different you know – they’re in different programs with different learnings and different interests” (Interview Participant, Ontario Region)
  • “It wasn’t my request, but it was a request of the social worker that was asked to take on a student, but didn’t feel that she could, and it would be too much. So, I offered to co-supervise with her so that the student could benefit from a good field placement. [Name of Person 1], she got two-for-one, kind of thing. It might be difficult for students because you really have to build a relationship with one person, and it’s good to have a trusting relationship with your supervisor. So, if you feel like you’re kind of being tossed between two people, that’s not good. So, it has to be really clear who’s responsible for what.” (Interview Participant, Quebec region)

Practice 3:

Peer supervision conducted by MSW students to BSW students

Providing early exposure of being a field educator for graduate students can encourage them to pursue this as a potential career path.

  • “…thinking about near peer supervision, having like MSW students also assist with BSW students as well as other stakeholders such as other faculty in a partnership approach provide supervision in different ways and feedback.” (Interview Participant, Prairie Region)
  • “Some students at the BSW level are practicing at a graduate level; they have lots of experience; they know lots about communication skills, relationship building, even counseling theory, structural social work and they want to go higher but feel held back. At the other end there are students that feel like, just overwhelmed by everything that they need to apply. So, maybe there’s also ways to pair up students to support each other in that way, like students with lots of experience and less experience and that’s a way to pool resources in field education (Interview Participant, BC region)

Practice 4:

Include a skilled-based perspective where it is possible to break things down into smaller parts to be able to practice independently and then practice with a supervisor to get feedback

Facilitating the development of independent practice skills by offering students the opportunity to practice targeted skills with the ability to request immediate supervisor feedback.

  • “I always found that to be an invigorating experience. When I got my first teaching job, which is probably over 35 years ago, it happened to be the gap that the program had someone to look, to be responsible for field education. So, I just really took to it, and that was in an environment where I got to begin with the skills review lab. We had seminars, face-to-face every other week, sometimes we would host those seminars in an agency setting, and we would all go to a particular agency, so the students were not only learning about their own practice context, they were also able to go and see where other students were placed, and what is this place and what they did here, and how does it fit with the place that I’m working.”(Interview Participant, BC region)
  • “How to make those adjustments from a skill-based perspective, and to keep experimenting and trying and to practice deliberately? Sort of break things down into smaller parts to be able to practice that independently and then practice that with a supervisor to get feedback.” (Interview Participant, Prairie Region)
  • “Here’s another one that I’ve advised my students to learn. Whether it’s been in class or as a liaison or from supervision, is that they learn self-supervision techniques. It does not matter where they are located or what kind of context they are in, but different self-supervision techniques that students could learn are things like: recording themselves, and from that recording they could look at it from a variety of ways. One of the ways I call “as if listening”, and so that they would listen from a different position than their own. For example, they can do process recordings in which they, or transcripts in which they just take a very small section of an interaction and analyze the language. And then another one I call “the banana exercise.” Students in my class have all had that. It’s kind of like a brain storming session, but the question is whatever the issue or concern or dilemma or whatever is on the table.” (Interview Participant, Prairie Region)

Refers to the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS) implementing initiatives, regulations, or policies to address the noted crisis in field education.

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