Have a Question?
Ask the Graduate
College at our new
Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Denise E. Dedman
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: Social Work Field Instructors’ Perceptions of On-Line Training
Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer, Chair
Dr. Andrea Beach
Dr. Ineke Way
Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
3306 Sangren Hall
This study addressed attitudes and perceptions of social work field instructors regarding on-line training in their roles. While previous studies of the field placement directors of universities’ social work programs had been conducted, there exist no broad studies of the field instructors’ perceptions. Some earlier qualitative studies of field instructors identified time constraints as a significant issue in their willingness to continue accepting interns. This, along with some evidence that the social work profession has lagged behind others in utilizing technology for professional continuing education, was impetus for the current study.
This non-experimental quantitative study used an emailed survey to more than 600 field instructors in the state of Michigan, producing a total of 208 responses. Field placement directors at 4 universities, involving 3 BSW programs and 3 MSW programs, forwarded these surveys to all their field instructors. The dependent variable of this study was the inclination of field instructors to participate in an on-line training program. Independent variables included the length of experience at the terminal degree level, distance the field instructor would travel to a campus-based training, amount of experience and previous training as a field instructor, confidence with internet and computer skills, age, and desire to obtain professional continuing education credits.
A vast majority of respondents indicated that they would consider participating in an on-line training, while less than 5% rejected the idea entirely. Most field instructors reported using high speed internet connections and frequently engaged in emailing. The majority, even those who rejected the idea of participating in on-line training expressed confidence in their computer literacy and internet use skills.
Even though they had access to high speed internet and felt confidence in their skills with technology, field instructors continued to express concern about the lack of warmth in on-line training. Their willingness to engage in training through this modality suggests that it should be considered by schools of social work as an option to provide necessary training to busy professionals who are volunteering to supervise social work students. However, consideration should be given to field instructors’ concerns regarding the loss of the interaction in face-to-face training.