Social work students’ feedback about students’ suitability for field education and the profession


  • Ines Zuchowski James Cook University, Townsville and Cairns, Australia
  • Sally Watson James Cook University, Townsville and Cairns, Australia
  • Tracey Dickinson James Cook University, Townsville and Cairns, Australia
  • Nicole Thomas James Cook University, Townsville and Cairns, Australia
  • Sandra Croaker James Cook University, Townsville and Cairns, Australia



Field education, suitability, students, assessment, values and ethics, social work education, social work practice


INTRODUCTION: Many students successfully complete placement, while, for a minority of students, placement may be a time when questions are asked about suitability for placement and professional practice.

METHOD: Research undertaken with final year social work students examined their ideas about suitability and unsuitability for field education and practice and presented them with a model developed with field educators in an earlier phase of the research. The aim of the study was to incorporate students’ understanding into the discourse of suitability/unsuitability to further develop a suitability/unsuitability model for collaborative discussions between students, educators and supervisors. Twenty-eight students responded to an online survey.

RESULTS: The results show that students identify a critical understanding of self, skills, knowledge, attitudes and contextual factors as important in assessing students’ suitability for field education. Identified indicators of unsuitability included lack of preparedness to learn, lack of capacity
to demonstrate an understanding of professional values and ethics and inability to maintain professional boundaries or demonstrate basic practice skills. Students overwhelmingly supported the use of the presented model and made suggestions for further development of the model.

IMPLICATIONS: The discussion emphasises the importance of using a pedagogically informed formative assessment strategy in a timely manner to address professional suitability with students.


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How to Cite

Zuchowski, I., Watson, S., Dickinson, T., Thomas, N., & Croaker, S. (2019). Social work students’ feedback about students’ suitability for field education and the profession. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 31(2), 42–56.



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