Field placements provide social work students with the opportunity to integrate their classroom learning with the knowledge and skills used in various human service programs. The supervision structure that has most commonly been used is the intensive one-to-one, clinical teaching model. However, this model is being challenged by significant changes in educational and industry sectors, which have led to an increased use of alternative fieldwork structures and supervision arrangements, including task supervision, group supervision, external supervision, and shared supervisory arrangements. This study focuses on identifying models of supervision and student satisfaction with their learning experiences and the supervision received on placement. The study analysed responses to a questionnaire administered to 263 undergraduate social work students enrolled in three different campuses in Australia after they had completed their first or final field placement. The study identified that just over half of the placements used the traditional one student to one social work supervisor model. A number of "emerging" models were also identified, where two or more social workers were involved in the professional supervision of the student. High levels of dissatisfaction were reported by those students who received external social work supervision. Results suggest that students are more satisfied across all aspects of the placement where there is a strong on-site social work presence.
social work, field placement, student supervision, external supervision