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Wilfrid Laurier University Leaf
October 27, 2016
Canadian Excellence

Practicum Instruction

The role of the practicum instructor in the education of social workers is crucial.  The practicum instructor attempts to teach complex skills within the respective concentrations, model professional behaviours, and facilitate the growth and development of values and ethics in the intern.

The Faculty of Social Work has chosen to rely primarily on a system of agency-employed practicum instructors for its practicum program. At all times the interns and practicum instructors are accountable to the agency administration for the service responsibilities and to the University for the educational requirements and procedures. It is expected that the practicum instructors attend meetings or committees required by the agency to provide for realistic involvement in agency administration.

Appointment of Practicum Instructors

Practicum Instructors have a Masters of Social Work & are employed by practicum teaching centres. They are expected to have at least two years post-MSW full-time work experience, one year of employment in the agency, and to complete the Beginning Practicum Instruction Workshop or an equivalent. Instructors make a commitment to accept an intern during the time they are taking this program or the calendar year following it. Participants receive a certificate of completion which may be used toward professional credits if applicable. The Practicum Office works closely with all Practicum Instructors and help orient them towards their role and responsibilities a few months before the start of any placement. This includes assessing the instructor's interest and suitability considering CASWE and FSW policies, and requirements, and conducting a field visit.

Agency-based MSWs usually serve as Practicum Instructors for one or two interns each term. They are selected as Practicum Instructors because of their competence and ability to integrate theory and practice. To be approved as an Instructor, the agency administrator must be in support of the intern education program and willing to provide the necessary time to permit the practicum instructor to undertake this responsibility.

Goals for Practicum Instructors

The goal of the Practicum Instructor (PI) is to assist the intern to identify concepts and integrate theory into practice, as well as to assume responsibility for providing the necessary range of learning opportunities and methods within the practicum setting. This may include learning opportunities for practice with diverse, disadvantaged groups with respect to cultural diversity, class, age, gender and ability. The learning methods made available to students could include the use of tape recorders, audio/visual aids, group teaching, process recordings, other resource persons, etc.

With respect to the evaluation of the student the goal of PI is to encourage the development of self-awareness in the intern through an open intern-practicum instructor relationship, permitting the formulation of practicum goals, and evaluation of intern performance.


A.  The Practicum Instructor is fully accountable to the administrator of the agency or hospital unit, or to supervisory personnel assigned by the administrator.

B.  The Practicum Instructor will follow the general practice of the agency and the conditions of employment, respectful of any right of the University to terminate his/her teaching responsibility.

Responsibilities of Practicum Instructors

Practicum Instructors are expected to devote at most, five hours a week to each intern in placement: this includes about two-three hours a week supervision time of which a minimum of one and one-half hours should be in a regularly scheduled individual supervision each week. If group supervision is planned, time for this should be additional to the 1.5 hours per week of individual supervision. Practicum Instructors require time to read intern records, listen to tapes, observe interviews and prepare evaluation reports for the Faculty. Instructors for part-time interns doing two days per week placement may spend half the time per week as noted above.

Major responsibilities of the Practicum Instructor include the following:

>  Provide for the orientation of interns upon arrival for practicum instruction;
Become familiar with the educational philosophy and curriculum of the School;
Link theory and practice within the student's learning experience;
>  Planning with regard to assignments for intern practice loads;
Observing the interns in the practicum setting with regard to professional practice;
Complete the Learning Plan & Evaluation with the intern;
Schedule individual supervision for a minimum of 1.5 hours per week in order to teach practice values, knowledge and skills;
>  Allow the intern the necessary time for participation in concurrent courses offered during the practicum period;
Make use of Field Advisors as appropriate; Contact to initiate Intern-In-Difficulty Procedure;
>  Submit Midterm and Final Evaluations as requested by the Faculty
. Evaluation Guidelines are available to help facilitate
    planning for an evaluation meeting.

    Recognition of Practicum Instructors

    Experienced Practicum Instructors receive special recognition for their instruction of interns. At the end of each academic year, Practicum Instructors will receive a certificate of recognition for their practicum instruction.

    In addition, Practicum Instructors who have completed two successive placements will receive a certificate of recognition with the title “Assistant Practicum Professor (Part-time)”.

    Those instructors who have completed ten or more placements will receive a certificate of recognition with the title “Associate Practicum Professor (Part-time)”.

    Orientation and Training for Practicum Instructors

    Training opportunities are provided for new Practicum Instructors each year. Periodic workshop activity involving all Practicum Instructors are usually offered by the Faculty once a year. All new Practicum Instructors are expected to take the “Beginning Practicum Instruction" workshop series prior to or while providing practicum instruction to their first intern.  Instructors who have completed similar training at another school or faculty of social work may be exempt.  There is no fee for this workshop.

    For more information about these workshops and for current dates please see

    Benefits for Practicum Instructors

    The Faculty of Social Work recognizes that due to budget pressures it is increasingly difficult for social agencies to find the resources necessary for providing placements for our students. In order to reward the longstanding commitment of Practicum Instructors and facilitate your continued involvement with our practicum program, we provide several benefits to our field agency partners:

    1. Professional Development Dollars

    Professional Development (PD) Dollars are provided to our partnering agencies for each student that is provided a field placement. These PD dollars can be used toward any of our various workshops that are offered through the FSW Professional Development Office. PD workshop offerings for the current year can be viewed here.

    PD dollars will be awarded on the following basis for each student's field placement:

    >  100 PD dollars for the first field placement in post BA programs (82 days, full- or part-time);
    >  75 PD dollars for the second field placement in post BA programs (60 days, full- or part-time);
    >  100 PD dollars for advanced standing (post BSW) field placements (87 days, full-or part-time).

    PD dollars will be awarded at the end of student placements (beginning December 2012) and can be used immediately or saved for up to five years. The PD dollars will be given to the agency rather than the individual field instructor so that agencies have some flexibility in how to use them (although we trust that field instructors for our students will be the primary beneficiaries). For example, an agency may save PD dollars for a few years and then send a number of staff to the same professional development workshop. Unfortunately, there is the usual proviso: PD dollars have no cash value.

    2. Library Privileges

    All field agency personnel who have some connection with current student field placements (i.e., not just the field instructor, but also the agency director, the placement supervisor, and anyone else with some role to play in intern’s placement) will have electronic resource access to the WLU library (as well as borrowing privileges).  Contact  for login information.

    Field personnel also have the option to sign up for a community borrower card to access hard copy items in the library.  There is no charge for a community borrower card.

    3. Athletic Complex

    Practicum Instructors receive a discounted membership to our Athletic Complex (25% off) which is paid by the field contingency fund of the Faculty of Social Work.

    4. Committee Participation

    Practicum Instructors may participate in the Faculty of Social Work Divisional Council meetings and/or one of its standing committees.  Some selected Practicum Instructors have voting privileges.

    Faculty Support for Practicum Instruction

    The Faculty of Social work is committed to supporting practicum instruction as follows:

    Conducting field visits with new agencies to establish practicum settings which ensure a quality practicum program;
    Providing Practicum Instructors with a clear understanding of the practice concentration objectives;
    Setting minimum practicum practice goals and criteria for intern evaluations;
    Offering seminars and courses to assist Practicum Instructors with their teaching skills;
    Providing continuing education programs in new or advanced areas of practice;
    Supporting, initiating, and maintaining contact with Practicum Instructors and interns through Field Advisors.