UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Impact of COVID-19 on social work field education : Perspectives of Canadian social work students Au, Cara; Drolet, Julie L.; Kaushik, Vibha; Charles, Grant, 1953-; Franco, Monica; Henton, Jesse; Hirning, Marina; McConnell, Sheri; Nicholas, David; Nickerson, Amanda; et al.

Abstract

Summary: Social work field education has experienced major disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also embracing new opportunities to grow. The Transforming the Field Education Landscape research partnership developed a cross-sectional web-based survey with closed- and open-ended questions to understand student perceptions of COVID-19’s impacts on social work field education. The survey opened during the first wave of the pandemic from July 8 to 29, 2020 and was completed by 367 Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Social Work (MSW) students across Canada. Quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. Findings: Respondents experienced reduced practicum hours and placements terminating early or moving online. Students were concerned about gaining adequate experience for future job prospects. They were generally positive about academic institutional responses to COVID-19 but described financial challenges with tuition costs and a lack of paid practica. Respondents were mostly satisfied with practicum supervision. They experienced negative impacts of COVID-19 on mental health with isolation and remote learning and described a lack of institutional mental health support. Students were concerned with missing direct practice skills, while some students reported more flexible hours, access to online events beyond their region, and increased research experience. They expressed a need for practicum flexibility and accommodation. Applications: Recommendations include an increase in flexibility and accommodations for practicum students, exchanges of promising and wise field education practices, and accessible postsecondary mental health supports. Professional development opportunities should support graduates who missed learning opportunities in their practicum.

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Rights

Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International