Social work field education in Wallaga University, Ethiopia: Challenges and opportunities from the perspectives of students, faculty liaisons and agency supervisors
Social work field education is the core of social work education, which helps socialize students to perform the role of the practitioner. Multifaceted challenges, however, affected its effectiveness. The study aimed to investigate the challenges and opportunities of social work field education from the students’, faculty liaisons’, and agency supervisors’ perspectives. The study employed exploratory research as there was no well-developed literature so far. Data collected through focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and key informant interviews from 35 purposely selected respondents were thematically analyzed. Results of the study revealed field education as a good opportunity where students practically examine, critique, and test the knowledge, skills, values, and principles in academic courses. The study further revealed various challenges, including shortage of allotted time; inconsistent supervision/guidance; school management negligence; faculty liaisons job overload; inaccessibility and unsuitability of agencies and more hindered the effective implementation of field education. The study implied that the nature of commitment and relationship among the key actors of field education, including the faculty liaisons, university, students, agency supervisors and the placement agency determines the effectiveness of field education. Therefore, strong collaboration, commitments and more were suggested to be harnessed to ensure the success of field education.