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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Student Vulnerability in Social Work Field Education: Issues of Power and Resistance

Constance Barlow, Barry Hall.

Schon (1983) noted that the swampy‚ ground of practice differs significantly from the high hard ground‚ of classroom education where theories and techniques are introduced. Guiding social work students in the swampy field of practice is considered the primary role of the agency based field instructor.
This presentation will report on the outcome of study that consisted of semi-structured interviews with 35 randomly chosen undergraduate social work students in a large Canadian university and 35 randomly chosen community-based field instructors.
Qualitative analysis of the data revealed how students‚ sense of vulnerability in field placements interfaced with the complex social reality of power and resistance that is a characteristic the social work field education process. Student and field instructor responses to the faces of power-over and power-with such as coersion, influence, collaboration and mutuality will be discussed within the broader social context that includes the university and the social service community


Constance Barlow  (Canada)
Director of Field Education
Faculty of Social Work
University of Calgary

Dr. Constance Barlow is Director of Field Education, University of Calgary, Faculty of Social Work. Dr. Barry Hall is Professor and Head, Lethbridge Division, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary.

Barry Hall

  • Student Vulnerability
  • Social Work
  • Field Education
  • Power and Resistance

(30 min Conference Paper, English)