Inventory of Promising Practices

The Inventory of Promising Practices is based on research that aimed to identify promising, innovative, and wise practices in social work field education. TFEL conducted 104 interviews and 31 focus groups with 99 participants across Canada. Field education coordinators/directors, field instructors, faculty liaisons, and field educators were invited to share their perspectives in the study. The Inventory is organized in nine categories, and each category includes several promising, innovative, and wise practices. Each practice is informed by quotes from the study participants. The categories are:

  • Facilitating multiple partnerships and collaborations
  • Creating new and innovative field placements
  • Sharing unique practices for field supervision
  • Accreditation and policy
  • Valuing open-mindedness and flexibility in practicum placements
  • Using technology in field education
  • Macro-level placements
  • Incorporating Indigenous & wise practices
  • Equity, diversity & inclusion

The Inventory serves as a practical and accessible resource from which social work field educators and practitioners can draw new ideas and practices. TFEL acknowledges the contributions of Elizabeth Tettman (Student Research Assistant, University of Toronto), Dan Zhang (Student Research Assistant, University of Alberta), Kamal Khatiwada (TFEL Training and Mentorship Coordinator), Monica Franco (Student Research Assistant, University of Calgary), Tanya McKay (Student Research Assistant, University of Calgary), and Emmanuel Chilanga (Former TFEL Project Coordinator) in the creation of this resource.


Promising Practices – Promising practices were defined as approaches, interventions, programs, services, or strategies that show potential for enhancing field education. Promising practices may address specific challenges experienced in social work field education and are currently being evaluated for effectiveness and replicability and have demonstrated the ability to achieve their stated aims.

Wise Practices – Wise practices were defined as Indigenous-centered practices that are flexible, locally, and culturally relevant, that respect all forms of understanding including lived experience, traditional knowledge, and the use of story. Wise practices are relational in nature and encourage mutual respect, inclusivity, and collectivity.

Innovative Practices – Innovative practices were defined as cutting edge practices that have the potential to enhance field education while addressing existing challenges. Innovative practices were defined as new practices that have not yet been tested in some areas and show promise in their potential to enhance field education and address some of the challenges that exist.

Category 1: Facilitating Multiple Partnerships and Collaborations

Practice 1: Promoting community engagement to reciprocally meet community and field education needs

Practice 2: Developing a community of practice for diverse groups and organizations by going beyond individual or institutional agreements

Practice 3: Different institutions working together to avoid competition for practicum opportunities and developing community partnerships through university and field offices

Category 2: Creating New and Innovative Field Placements

Practice 1: Developing placements with multiple agencies

Practice 2: Identifying new field placement sites and working with non-traditional social work agencies

Practice 3: Expanding virtual practicums to allow for greater accessibility and reaching remote areas

Practice 4: Exploring self-directed placements to expose students to a diverse range of learning opportunities

Practice 5: Interprofessional field placements for social work students to collaborate and learn with other disciplines

Practice 6: Green social work field placements that integrate environmental justice and sustainability

Practice 7: Increase the availability of Northern and Rural field placements

Category 3: Sharing Unique Practices for Field Supervision

Practice 1: Including more voices in field education, such as service users and multiple field instructors

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

Practice 3: Peer supervision conducted by MSW students to BSW students

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

Category 4: Accreditation and Policy

Practice 1: Having university programs include courses on knowledge and competencies for field instruction as part of the curriculum

Practice 2: Exploring more diverse social work supervision outside of supervisors with BSW/MSW

Category 5: Valuing Open-Mindedness and Flexibility in Practicum Placements

Practice 1: Field educators and supervisors are open to the potential for innovation in different methods and the challenges presented

Practice 2: Incorporating group placements where students are involved in various activities in a collaborative approach

Practice 3: Encouraging flexibility around practicums to allow space and time for all circumstances

Category 6: Using Technology in Field Education

Practice 1: Online platforms for meeting and information sharing such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams

Practice 2: Developing digitalized trainings that are accessible across Canada

Practice 3: Technological innovations in field education

Category 7: Macro-Level Placements

Practice 1: Creating opportunities for “sector-based” practicum placement (e.g., around issues of housing/homelessness) vs. traditional one-on-one agency placement (may involve working in the shelter system, as an example, for front-line practice experience)

Practice 2: Creating additional macro-level placement options centered on research and policy that introduce students to a different level of social work intervention

Practice 3: Having students involved in social justice projects or community-level events

Category 8: Incorporating Indigenous & Wise Practices

Practice 1: Incorporating Indigenous cultural practices, and involving Elders in social work field education

Practice 2: Creating new ways of approaching learning goals and field agreements

Practice 3: Being creative, flexible and open-minded about definitions of certain terms, such as clinical practice that are more appropriate to apply in all contexts

Practice 4: Focusing on initiatives towards decolonizing and Indigenizing social work field practicums

Category 9: Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Practice 1: Addressing Anti-Black racism, Anti-Oppressive Practice, and EDI

Practice 2: Creating practicum opportunities that are situated in BIPOC organizations, diverse communities, and in languages other than French/English

Practice 3: Better representation to ensure space in organizations for BIPOC students, ensuring diverse representation on the field education committee, and representative hiring practices

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