The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), the national accrediting body for social work, requires students to undertake at least two social work supervised field education placements within a health or human service agency for a total minimum of 1,000 hours. This unit of study is designed to help students prepare for professional practice in the context of field education and beyond and is a pre-requisite to the social work Field Education units of study. Classes will include a combination of practical preparation for field placement; revision and integration of relevant theory and practice skills; small group reflective discussions; and simulated learning activities. The unit addresses each of the AASW Practice Standards and involves input from a range of professionals with expertise in student placements and careers in health and human services. Students will be introduced to the theory and practice of critical reflection; professional social work supervision; and inter-professional team work. In addition, students will work in small groups to consider contemporary ethical practice dilemmas and ways to resolve interpersonal conflicts and other common practice difficulties that also occur on field placement. Students will learn how to: negotiate and develop a suitable learning plan; maintain a reflective practice journal; undertake self-assessment; and develop strategies for ongoing self-care. This unit is also intended to encourage students to develop the skills to engage in difficult discussions in a respectful way; create a safe and supportive learning environment; and establish peer-support networks that carry over into the Field Education units of study.

Unit details

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Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:
  1. Critically reflect on their personal and practical preparedness for field education placement;  
  2. Demonstrate a beginning capacity for critical reflection;  
  3. Describe the role and models of professional supervision in social work practice;  
  4. Reflect on the application of various sources of knowledge to practice;  
  5. Identify their own emerging professional practice framework, and;  
  6. Exhibit the ability to take responsibility for their practice learning in social work.  


Assessment type Description Grade
Portfolio Preparation of portfolio that includes cover letter, professional resume, National Police Check, Working with Children Check, Placement Agreement Form 20%
Assignment Personal knowledge audit and field placement learning plan 40%
Exercise Critical incident report and reflection 40%

Required reading

Making the most of field placement 3rd Edition
Cleak, H & Wilson, J 2013
Cengage Learning Australia, South Melbourne

Being Critically Reflective: Engaging in Holistic Practice
Gardner, F 2014
Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke

Social Work Field Education Manual Latest Edition
Victoria University

Practice Standards Latest Edition

Code of Ethics Latest Edition

Where to next?

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