Failing students in fieldwork practice : fieldwork supervisors at the crossroads

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Failing students in fieldwork practice : fieldwork supervisors at the crossroads


Author: Cheung, Yu-bo Joana
Title: Failing students in fieldwork practice : fieldwork supervisors at the crossroads
Degree: M.A.
Year: 2001
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Field work (Educational method)
Grading and marking (Students) -- China -- Hong Kong -- Case studies
Social work education -- China -- Hong Kong -- Case studies
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: vi, 127, [5] leaves : ill. ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: The purpose of this study is to learn about the fieldwork supervisors' subjective experience and to examine the struggles which they encounter in failing students in fieldwork practice within the local context. The criteria which they consider in failing students in fieldwork practice are also explored. It is hoped that some insights can be generated on fieldwork supervision from such experience. A qualitative research method was employed in this study. Six part-time fieldwork supervisors supervising students of a diploma in social work course of a university in Hong Kong were invited as informants. In-depth face-to-face interviews were conducted with a semi-structured questionnaire. The interviews were audio-taped for analysis. The findings showed that the fieldwork supervisors experienced much struggles in failing students in fieldwork practice. They recognized that the educational, supportive, and administrative functions of fieldwork supervision were complementary to each other. Yet, they were required to make a versatile balance among the functions with reference to the unique contextual characteristics of the student, the fieldwork agency, the institution, and the situation. Moreover, their conception of fieldwork failure reflected their educational emphasis in fieldwork supervision. As regards the criteria in failing students, the fieldwork supervisors evaluated their students' performance with reference to the institution's assessment guidelines while adding their other concerns, such as the students' characteristics and comparison among the students' performance. It was also noted that the supervisor-student relationship did not affect the fieldwork supervisors in giving a marginal pass or failure but the tense nature during the fieldwork process was mentioned. Finally, the fieldwork supervisors also considered the recommendations made by the institution and the respective fieldwork agency on students' performance. They admitted that both support and pressure from the two parties might exist in different situations. Discussion focuses on the two major sources of struggles experienced by the fieldwork supervisors in failing students in fieldwork practice. The internal struggles included the appropriate balance among the three functions of fieldwork supervision and the conception of fieldwork failure as well as the feelings involved in the tense supervisor-student relationship. The external struggles were related to the criteria infailing students in fieldwork practice. The ultimate causes of these struggles were highlighted which were the fieldwork supervisors' concern of the principle of fairness and justice as well as their experience of an intense emotional involvement and the sense of self-doubt. Some implications of fieldwork failure for fieldwork supervision, the fieldwork supervisors, the institutions, the fieldwork agencies and the students are made. The educational emphasis and the principle of fairness and justice are stressed. Open discussions and clear feedback among the parties involved throughout the fieldwork process are recommended. Finally, further researches using different methods, involving different subjects and exploring the impact of cultural forces are suggested for a more comprehensive understanding on the issue of fieldwork failures.

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