Practicum Education Manual - III. Roles and Responsibilities of Involved Parties

A. Overview

  Main Purpose Relationship with Student Relationship with School Example of when contact would be appropriate
Internship Placement Site To serve as the physical internship placement location To offer a facility in which the student can practice and develop skills To offer a facility in which the school can place the student to practice and develop skills Student is at the internship placement site 2 days per week for 8 hours per day
Director of Practicum Education To provide direction, organization and meaningful purpose to practicum-education experiences To guide all parties and oversee placement sites to ensure proper experience is gained To coordinate and supervise the OPE Student speaks with the Faculty Practicum Liaison about a concern and is referred to the Director of Practicum Education
Placement Assistant To review student interest, contact agencies, and arrange internship placements To work with the student to arrange internship placements To find and maintain appropriate internship placement opportunities Student receives IPT notice directing him/her to contact an agency, but is confused as to the next steps
Faculty Practicum Liason To serve the student as a liaison between the school and internship placement site To offer instruction, guidance, and to assign a grade for internship placement To offer feedback regarding student performance and internship placement sites Student is at internship placement and does not like the experience; the student wants another placement
Practicum Instructor To provide the student with on-site supervision and guidance To offer instruction, clarification, and supervision while at the internship placement site To provide the student with a qualified instructor able to guide and explain the internship- learning process Student is at the internship placement and has a concern
Task Supervisor To provide day-to-day supervision of tasks, as approved by the Practicum Instructor To offer instruction and clarification of tasks in the Practicum Instructor's absence To offer feedback regarding student performance in the Practicum Instructor's absence Student is at the internship placement site and has a question about a client in group when the Practicum Instructor is absent
Student To practice the skills needed in order to be an effective, professional worker -- To expect a quality internship experience while  actively participating in the placement process Placement assistant is informed of an agency opening and calls the student inquiring if interested




B. Professional conduct

Students come in contact with numerous practicum education professionals on a consistent basis; therefore, all parties involved are expected to present themselves and act in a professional manner.  The OPE creates and maintains relationships with internship placement agencies in order to offer students the best internship placement experiences possible.  Any inappropriate behavior must be reported immediately to the Director of Practicum Education or the Associate Dean of the school.

The following are professional conduct expectations related to internship placement:

  • Internship Placement Site: will provide students a quality learning experience consisting of professional guidance, appropriate working conditions, and tasks related to learning objectives.
  • Director of Practicum Education: will provide students with appropriate feedback and consultation in the arrangement of internship placements and the delegation or resolution of concerns.
  • Placement Assistant: will interview and work with the student to review the Student Detail Page and offer the most appropriate and meaningful internship placement opportunity available.
  • Faculty Practicum Liaison: will work with the student and practicum instructor to ensure the goals outlined in the learning plan and the internship placement course objectives are being met.
  • Practicum Instructor: will provide the student with a meaningful internship placement experience that offers social-work opportunities and includes weekly supervision, in accordance with outlined learning objectives.
  • Task Supervisor: will supervise the student's day-to-day tasks in accordance with outlined learning objectives, excluding weekly supervision, when the practicum instructor is not available.
  • Student: will work cooperatively with all involved parties to obtain and maintain a successful internship placement experience, using professional etiquette and appropriate workplace ethics/demeanor. In all courses, including internship placement, students shall maintain professional conduct in accordance with the WSU Student Code of Conduct and the school's professional and academic standards, i.e., the NASW Code of Ethics, professional social work values, and laws regulating social work practice.

C. Internship placement site

The staff at the internship placement site works in concert with the school to provide students avenues for meaningful practice experiences.  By committing itself to an educational function and supporting the role of the practicum instructor, the internship placement site creates opportunities to develop an educational program meeting both agency and school expectations.  The school expects that staff at the site will exhibit a supportive attitude to foster an educational relationship between the students and the practicum instructors, rather than a staff-oriented relationship in which production is the major goal.

The designation of an agency location as an internship placement site is guided by these criteria:

  • The agency philosophy of social service should be compatible with the educational objectives of the social work profession.
  • The internship site's mission shall be compatible with that of the schools.
  • The administration and staff should be qualified, respect professional education, understand its goals, and be willing to undertake, individually and collectively, the various responsibilities that a practicum program entails.
  • The staff should be large enough to maintain programs without depending on students.
  • The social work service department or unit operating in a non-social-work program, such as a hospital, court, or school, should be integrated into the structural organization of the total program.
  • A qualified practicum instructor must be available to instruct students.
  • The agency must provide a desk, appropriate interviewing space, telephones, clerical services, and other technical and personal supports necessary for students to carry out their practice and learning assignments.
  • Students must be afforded the opportunity to carry out practice assignments which are within the specific mission and goals of the agency, fulfill the educational program of the school, and are geared to the particular educational needs and interests of the students.
  • The agency must provide qualified practicum instructors who are allocated sufficient time within the agency to carry out their roles and responsibilities.

D. Director of Practicum Education

The Director of Practicum Education works with placement assistants and Faculty Practicum Liaisons to offer collaborative and meaningful internship placement experiences. The Director of Practicum Education also creates and implements policies and procedures pertaining to practicum education, delegating as necessary. The Director of Practicum Education develops and monitors placements, supervises the gathering of information related to them, coordinates assignments, assembles curricula, selects instructors, plans staff- development programs, and represents the school in relationships with agencies.

E. Placement Assistant

A placement assistant is a school staff member who works with agencies and students to coordinate internship placements but does not act as an academic advisor. More specifically, a placement assistant reviews the Student Detail Page on the Intern Placement Tracking System, IPT, conducts interviews with students regarding internship placements, contacts agencies to arrange internship placements, and informs students of internship placement assignments.

F. Faculty Practicum Liaison

The Faculty Practicum Liaison is a member of the school staff or faculty who serves as a liaison between the student, the practicum instructor, and the staff of the internship placement site. Each student is assigned a Faculty Practicum Liaison upon starting a practicum placement. The Faculty Practicum Liaison meets with the practicum instructor and student to specify and clarify assignments and concerns, assess student process recordings, make recommendations to the OPE, review student evaluations, and grade the student in internship placement. The Faculty Practicum Liaison can also discuss career plans with students and suggest courses that will enhance employment options.

Faculty Practicum Liaisons:

  • Develop plans with the agency and deal with internship placement issues related to the school.
  • Serve as a conduit between the school and agency.
  • Interpret the school's various programs for practicum instructors and agencies.
  • Help students plan their educational experience in practicum.
  • Discuss student concerns about practicum instruction, and agency experiences.
  • Work with the practicum instructors to ensure that student internship assignments reflect the internship placement curriculum and student needs.
  • Ensure that the school's standards for internship placement instruction are upheld.
  • Review student progress with practicum instructors.
  • Act as educational consultants to practicum instructors to enhance their practicum-education skills.
  • Grade students, after consulting with practicum instructors.
  • Discuss any problems related to student education in internship placement with the Director of Practicum Education; and
  • Provide feedback to agencies.

1. Faculty Practicum Liason visits

Each student registered for practicum education will be assigned a Faculty Practicum Liaison.  The Faculty Practicum Liaison will make a minimum of two internship visits per academic year for all students in the BSW and MSW programs.  The first visit should be scheduled no later than the end of the first month of internship placement.  The Faculty Practicum Liaison will schedule a subsequent internship visit at the beginning of the second semester.  Additional visits will be scheduled as needed. Example visit schedule:

Curriculum Year Total Visits 1st Visit Scheduled 2nd Visit Scheduled
BSW-WOW 2 End of September End of Jauary
BSW-Senior* (part-time) 2 End of September (End of Janaury) End of January (End of May)
MSW-Foundation 2 End of September End of January
MSW-Advanced 2 End of September End of January

* Items in ( ) represent part-time program status for the designated curricular year

G. Practicum Instructor

Practicum instructors supervise students at their internship placement site, with their primary role being educational. Practicum instructors are required to have two years of post-degree experience and be eligible for licensure in the State of Michigan or another qualified individual identified by the WSU School of Social Work.

A practicum instructor:

  • Assures that the student placement experience is educational.
  • Explains the educational purposes to appropriate agency staff.
  • Establishes suitable working conditions for student learning, including adequate space and other necessary supports for carrying out responsibilities.
  • Helps students to plan their educational experience in practicum.
  • Discusses work satisfactions and concerns about practice, practicum instruction, agency experience, and class work with students.
  • Learns the practicum and class curricula.
  • Selects suitable assignments in consultation with the faculty practicum liaison.
  • Develops and maintains a system of student record writing.
  • Holds weekly supervision with the students to review tasks and responsibilities; including reviewing student assignments.
  • Evaluates student performance at midterm and at the end of each term.
  • Meets with the assigned faculty practicum liaison to discuss assignments, review work, and recommend marks.
  • Informs the assigned faculty practicum liaison of any concerns about progress, activities, and any other issues.
  • Works with the assigned faculty practicum liaison to evaluate the agency's relation to school and curricula as they relate to student learning experiences.
  • Attends classes, meetings, and participates in workshops and institutes that may enhance practicum instruction skills; and
  • Informs the agency and the school promptly of any changes affecting student education.

1. Practicum Instructor seminars

New practicum instructors are encouraged to attend two-hour Practicum Instructor Seminars, offered six times throughout the fall and winter semesters.  Each session focuses on a different aspect of supervision and provides participants with Continuing Education Contact Hours, as approved by the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative.  Topics such as evaluation, learning objectives and styles, and providing proper guidance are discussed in an open, roundtable format.  We will also offer some topics in an online format.

Practicum instructors who have served in such a capacity before, but would like additional information regarding practicum instruction, are also welcome to attend Practicum Instructor Seminars.

In addition, if a group of practicum instructors in a certain geographic location and/or specific agency setting is interested in having a Practicum Instructor Seminar session conducted at a site other than WSU's main campus, the practicum instructors should contact the OPE to make arrangements.

2. Practicum Instructor meetings with student

Practicum instructors are required to meet with students for at least one hour weekly to provide supervision.  Practicum instructors may meet individually or as a group, depending on the nature of work performed. This meeting should be used to discuss and reflect on student concerns regarding client, agency, and internship placement issues.  The practicum instructor should ensure that the student is fulfilling the needed core competencies, including review of completed assignments via the IPT system and verification of required clock hours.

3. Practicum Instructor evalation of practicum experience

The Practicum Instructor Evaluation of Practicum Experience is emailed to all practicum instructors who worked with BSW and MSW students during the academic year. This instrument affords practicum instructors an opportunity to give feedback to the school about their impressions of the Faculty Practicum Liaison and the school as a whole. The evaluation is emailed to practicum instructors annually at the end of the practicum experience. The practicum instructor will be responsible for completing this evaluation and returning it to the OPE.

H. Task Supervisor

If the practicum instructor is not able to provide daily supervision to the student, then a task supervisor must be assigned. A task supervisor is responsible for the day-to-day supervision of tasks performed by the student while in practicum, excluding weekly supervision. Individuals holding this position are not required to have two years of post-MSW experience or be an LMSW. However, the task supervisor must be employed at the internship placement site in a similar area as the student doing internship placement and be responsible for performing social-service-type tasks. A task supervisor should meet all objectives listed for a practicum instructor except weekly supervision and is encouraged to attend New Practicum Instructor Seminars. The student must still be provided the minimum one hour of weekly supervision from an assigned practicum instructor.

I. Student

Students enrolled in degree programs are expected to develop the practical skills needed to become professionals. During internship placement, students are expected to apply learned skills by performing professional staff functions, having been granted appropriate authority and responsibility.  The school and the agency recognize that the practicum instructor oversees student activities as both educator and guardian of students' and clients' best interests.

1. General responsibilities

The student, under the supervision of the practicum instructor and, in consultation with the faculty practicum liaison, is responsible to:

      • Implement the school's policies and procedures within the internship placement.
      • Implement the agency's policies and procedures within the internship placement.
      • Perform in the agency within the framework of the practicum curriculum.
      • Develop capacity and acquire knowledge to carry out practice assignments.
      • Prepare written educational and agency recordings and reports and to enhance student's ability to make oral reports of their work.
      • Meet regularly with the practicum instructor to develop student's professional skills.
      • Participate with the practicum instructor in evaluating student performance.
      • Raise concerns relative to learning or other matters with appropriate persons.
      • Meet with the Faculty Practicum Liaison to discuss placement performance; and
      • Work with the practicum instructor to determine appropriateness of using agency and client material for class presentations and assignments.

2. Responsibilities prior to beginning practicum placement

The student, with guidance from OPE staff, is responsible to do the following prior to the beginning of internship placement:

  • Complete the Student Detail Page and upload a current resume via the Intern Placement Tracking System, IPT, (i.e., questionnaire, resume); Read and accept the Statement of Acknowledgement and agreement to abide by the Professional and Technical Standards. Please note, if not accepted, students must see their Academic Advisor before meeting with the OPE.
  • Schedule an interview with a placement assistant to discuss internship placement.
  • Contact the internship placement site once information is received via email to schedule a formal interview.
  • Notify the OPE regarding any concerns prior to beginning internship placement; and
  • Check WSU email regularly, as the majority of OPE correspondence is sent that way.

3. Responsibilities when doing internship placement

The student, under the instruction of the practicum instructor, and, in consultation with the Faculty Practicum Liaison, is responsible for:

  • Submitting a learning plan at the beginning of the first semester of internship placement.
  • A revision of, or addendum to, the original learning plan, at the beginning of the second semester of internship placement.
  • A specified number of process recordings or PRACSIS, depending on the degree program and curricular status.
  • Maintaining a time log of hours, to be updated weekly.
  • Consulting with practicum instructor on midterm evaluation to assess progress towards competencies.
  • Consulting with practicum instructor on assessment of student competencies to determine a grade for internship placement at the end of each semester; and
  • Being knowledgeable and abiding by The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Code of Ethics:

The NASW has an established code of ethics which all social workers are expected to follow. The NASW code of ethics strives to ensure that social workers exceed public expectations and uphold a uniform set of principles. The primary focus of the profession is to improve the quality of life for people in need or requiring assistance. Special attention should be paid to oppressed, vulnerable, and poverty-stricken populations. 

4. Student evaluation of practicum experience

The Student Evaluation of Practicum Experience is sent electronically to BSW and MSW students at the end of the internship placement experience.  This instrument affords students an opportunity to give feedback to the school about their impressions of the agency, the practicum instructor, the Faculty Practicum Liaison as well as the Office of Practicum Education.  The evaluation is emailed to all students registered for practicum. The student is responsible for completing this evaluation form at the conclusion of the practicum experience.

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