NYU Silver is in the process of replacing the term “field” with “practicum” in the context of experiential learning in light of the former term’s association with slavery and the exploitation of immigrant laborers. This change aligns with the School’s commitment to antiracist education, the use of inclusive language, and is in keeping with the NASW Code of Ethics Value “Dignity and Worth of the Person.”
About Practicum Education
According to the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), practicum education is the signature pedagogy in social work at the bachelors and masters level. The practicum experience goes by many names, including “practicum,” “practicum placement,” and “the internship.” However, while each of those terms may capture some part of the process, none quite encapsulates this vital method of study. At NYU Silver, we think of practicum education as the open classroom. Your practicum experience will allow you to take what you have learned in your classes ‒ the theories; the knowledge from books, articles and professors; the information that you have assessed critically and that you are digesting and synthesizing ‒ and will enable you to apply it directly with clients in agencies, organizations, communities, and neighborhoods.
Within the context of your closely supervised practicum placement, you will gain hands-on experience outside of a traditional classroom while you continue to learn, not only in the Practice class you take concurrently, but also from your Practicum Instructor, Task Supervisor, and supervision meetings, as well as from your clients and the communities you are serving.
Goals of Practicum Education
For BS students and MSW students in the Generalist Practice, or first, year, the primary goal of practicum education is to provide a foundation of social work practice skills, guided by social work values and ethics, applicable across a wide range of systems and populations. At NYU Silver, Social Work Practice classes and practicum education are integrated for BS and Generalist Practice MSW students; the students’ Practice instructors serve as their practicum education Faculty Advisors in order to provide optimal support and foster optimal learning.
For MSW students in the Specialized Practice, or second year, the focus of their practicum education is on specific aspects of social work within a particular practice area (see Placement Settings) along with their professional development and growth.
The Placement Process
The Practicum Education Office at NYU Silver devotes considerable effort to matching students with appropriate, enriching practicum education opportunities to ensure their full development and growth as social work professionals.
Each year, students answer a questionnaire and submit their resumes to help the Practicum Education Office match them with a placement agency that will fulfill their educational goals. In the Generalist Practice year, a member of the faculty in the Practicum Education Office assigns the student to an agency, based on the student’s program, past experience, requirement of the practicum education site, and where they live.
In the Specialized Practice year, it is possible for the student to concentrate his or her graduate education on specific aspects of social work within a particular practice area. The student’s practicum education Faculty Advisor, in the capacity of educational consultant, assists the student with the development of educational goals and objectives for the Specialized Practice year that will facilitate the individual student’s professional progress.
Please email the Practicum Education Office for additional information.