Social work field instructors' perceptions of on -line training
Social work has recently identified the field placement as the signature pedagogy of the profession, yet little has been done to identify the best means of training field instructors to supervise students in their field placements. This study addressed attitudes and perceptions of social work field instructors regarding on-line training in their roles. While previous studies of university social work program field placement directors had been conducted, there exist no broad studies of the field instructors' perceptions. Some earlier qualitative studies of field instructors identified time constraints as a significant issue in their willingness to continue accepting interns. This, along with some evidence that the social work profession has lagged behind others in utilizing technology for professional continuing education, was impetus for the current study.
This non-experimental quantitative study involved an on-line survey to more than 600 field instructors in the state of Michigan, producing a total of 208 responses. Field placement directors at 4 universities, involving 3 BSW programs and 3 MSW programs, forwarded these surveys to all their field instructors. The dependent variable of this study was the inclination of field instructors to participate in an on-line training program. Independent variables included the length of experience at the terminal degree level, distance the field instructor would travel to a campus-based training, amount of experience and previous training as a field instructor, confidence with internet and computer skills, age, and desire to obtain professional continuing education credits.
A vast majority of respondents indicated that they would consider participating in an on-line training, while less than 5% rejected the idea entirely. Most field instructors reported using high speed internet connections and frequently engaged in emailing. The majority, even those who rejected the idea of participating in on-line training, expressed confidence in their computer literacy and internet use skills.
Even though they had access to high speed internet and felt confidence in their skills with technology, field instructors continued to express concern about the lack of warmth in on-line training. Their willingness to engage in training through this modality suggests that it should be considered by schools of social work as an option to provide necessary training to busy professionals who are volunteering to supervise social work students. However, consideration should be given to field instructors' concerns regarding the loss of the interaction in such face-to-face training.
0710: Educational technology
0745: Higher education