TASK SUPERVISION IN SOCIAL WORK EDUCATION
MARSHACK, ELAINE FISCHER
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The field practicum plays a central role in the education of M.S.W. students. Whether arranged as a block placement or offered concurrently with classroom instruction, the practicum typically occupies one-half or more of a student's total time in an M.S.W. program. Field instruction by an individual M.S.W. remains the predominant pattern for field teaching, but the role of field instructor has been increasingly supplemented in recent years by the participation of secondary or task supervisors, not necessarily social workers, who teach students in some ongoing area(s) of their field practica. Excluded from the definition are consultants and leaders of seminar and student groups.;This study, the first on the subject known to the researcher, was undertaken to obtain descriptive information about the extent, bases for use and forms of task supervision in one M.S.W. program. Since the distinguishing characteristic of task supervision is the participation of more than one mentor in tutorial field teaching of an individual student, particular attention was directed to examining how the roles of field instructor and task supervisor were differentiated, how conflict was handled in implementation of the plan, and how satisfied instructors were with varied aspects of the teaching arrangement.;All 314 field instructors affiliated with the Hunter College School of Social Work in 1982-1983 were surveyed by mail questionnaire, and 66% or 208 responded. Ninety working with task supervisors provided detailed data, and the remainder brief answers.;The major findings were that: (1) task supervision represents an evolutionary rather than abrupt change in field teaching; (2) it is primarily used to broaden students' learning opportunities; (3) one-quarter of the task supervisors were not social workers; (4) field instructors working with task supervisors tended to be more experienced and twice as likely to be working with two or more students as field instructors who were not; (5) field instructors carried the major responsibility for initiating, defining, and implementing task supervisory plans; (6) field instructors and task supervisors overlapped extensively in their teaching content and methodology; (7) field instructors' appraisals of their collaborative relationships with task supervisors were strongly associated with their readiness to work with task supervisors again; (8) the vast majority of the field instructors would choose to work with task supervisors again.
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