International Journal of Social Policy & Education

ISSN 2689-4998 (print), 2689-5013 (online)

Teaching and Learning Strategies in Fieldwork Supervision for Sub-Degree Social Work Students in Hong Kong

Dr. Catherine Y. S. Chan


The aim of this qualitative study is to review the existing local fieldwork supervision scheme ofsub-degree programmes in social work in Hong Kong as well as exploring teaching and learning strategies in fieldwork supervision in Hong Kong. The outcome of this study is to develop useful strategies of fieldwork supervision for sub-degree social work programme. Theoretical sampling is employed to examine teaching and learning strategies in fieldwork supervision for sub-degree social work programme. Fourtypes of stakeholders (faculty members, fieldwork supervisors, on-site supervisors and students) are interviewed using focus groups, in-depth interviews and telephone consultations toexplore teaching and learning strategies in fieldwork supervision. In addition, three local experts are invited to review the research topic. A review of the fieldwork placement handbooks in different institutes is also conducted. The main findings of this study are: that there are no systematic guideline and training for conducting fieldwork supervision in current practice. Fieldwork supervisors conduct supervision based on their experience but are less concerned with the needs of the student. Sub-degree programmes of social work are one of the leading markets in thesocial work field. Around 40 percent of social work posts are sub-degree graduates (Social Worker Registration Board, 2017). Individual and group supervision are commonly used in supervision session but there is little discussion around which strategies are useful for supervising sub-degree students. These findings revealed that individual and group supervision is useful for students but it might be dependent on the needs of students and the stage of fieldwork placement. In the beginning stages of placement, informants are more likely to enjoy group supervision sessions because they gain support from their peers. In the latter stages of fieldwork placement, students enjoy individual supervision session due to disclosure of their personal feelings to supervisors. These findings indicate that emotional support is a very important function in supervising sub-degree students. They felt anxious without their supervisor’s support. Moreover, supervisory practice in fieldwork supervision helps students to become professional social workers in the work context. These findings reveal that skills demonstration and live supervision are the most useful strategies for helping student acquire skills. In current practice, no compulsory guidelines for supervisory practice are suggested among higher education institutes. These findings indicate that the ‘hand-in’ practice is a useful strategy for student’s skill developments. The findings reveal that effective fieldwork supervision stems from different stakeholders who undertake important roles in supervision practice such as fieldwork supervisors, on-site supervisors, faculty members and students. Thus, a framework for sub-degree social work students is proposed here. On-site supervisors should provide an opportunity for student’s learning. Student needs to have an active learning attitude, and faculty member should design comprehensive fieldwork education arrangement for students, for example, assessment systems, pre-preparatory placement workshops and training platforms.