FIELD INSTRUCTION STUDENTS' PRACTICE ORIENTATION AT MEREDITH COLLEGE (SOCIAL WORK, NORTH CAROLINA)
RAMSEY, PATRICIA CAMPBELL
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This dissertation examines the impact of modes of field instruction on students' practice orientation. The social work education literature has consistently identified three models of field instruction. These current models of field instruction are: (1) the block, (2) concurrent, and (3) an amalgamation of the two. Inherent in each model is a value base which strongly influences the nature of the field instruction of that particular approach and guides the students' experiences and learning opportunities.;Very few systematic studies have attempted to measure the effect of these models of field instruction on practice orientations. Also there are a lack of useful techniques for measuring the types of practice orientations resulting from these modes. This study seeks to address this gap in social work theory.;The procedure of the study involves a quasi-experimental static-group comparison design. The sample consists of three populations of female, postgraduate students at Meredith College. The independent variable, the types of field instruction, has three modes: (1) the summer block, expected to be operational in nature as the agency is the locus of control; (2) the two-semester concurrent, expected to be conceptual as the school is the locus of control; and (3) the concurrent semester block, expected to have a blending of the two orientations as both agency and school share the locus of control. The dependent variable, practice orientations, is operationalized through the "Practice Orientation Scale." This scale, a modification of the "Self-Profile of Learning Style," consists of three subscales reflecting cognitive activities--conceptual, operational, and affective--is designed to measure two distinct types of practice orientations operationally defined as: (1) classroom/theoretical, and (2) agency/practice. The Delphi technique and factor analysis, and Cronbach's Alpha were used to test the instrument's construct validity and reliability respectively.;The thesis, that out of three structures of field instruction develops distinct patterns of practice orientation, was supported. Summer block subjects were more operational (agency/practice); two-semester concurrent students were more conceptual (classroom/theoretical); while concurrent semester block subjects had a blending of the two orientations. The results show that practice orientations exist among professionals, and are significant as they guide practice.