Publication Details

Fox, M. (2017). The international field placement: a reconciliation of identity. Social Work Education, 36 (5), 495-507.


The international field placement is a site of both identity confusion and identity development for the social work student. Aiming to develop their professional identity they are faced with a challenge: the presence of two dominant identities, the tourist identity and the student identity. Whilst the embodiment of the tourist identity has often facilitated the student¿s motivation to undertake the placement experience, the student identity is what both university staff and agency field educators perceive as integral to student engagement in this remote educational setting. Social work educators perceive this identity challenge as an impediment to learning. In contrast, students report feeling that their tourist traits strengthened their personal and professional capacity, natural curiosity and ability to engage with the local community. By analysing the roles of university staff as liaison support, and field educators as agency supervisors, it is possible to explore a teaching and learning relationship that is student-centred, grounded in the immersive international experience. Through privileging the student¿s voice social work educators involved with organising, supporting and supervising international field placements are able to understand the placement as a continuum of learning. On this continuum identity reconciliation is viewed as a crucial element in the development of a professional identity.



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