The signature pedagogy of social work? An investigation of the evidence

Gary Holden, Kathleen Barker, Gary Rosenberg, Sofie Kuppens, Laura W. Ferrell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: Many professions use some form of internship in professional education. Social work has utilized field instruction throughout much of its history. Recently, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) designated field instruction as social work's signature pedagogy. A systematic review was undertaken to examine evidence related to this designation. Method: Twenty-five primary databases, three grey literature sources, a research university library (for monographs and collections) were searched in addition to a survey of the invisible colleges and hand searching of journals. The goal was to uncover quantitative studies of social work field instruction in the United States. Results: None of the studies that passed the initial review and were acquired for full examination met the inclusion criteria, precluding a meta-analytic integration. Conclusion: The assertion that field instruction is the signature pedagogy of social work would be more credible if supported by stronger evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-372
Number of pages10
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2011


  • CSWE
  • EPAS
  • field
  • field education
  • field instruction
  • field instructor
  • field learning
  • field placement
  • field work
  • fieldwork
  • intern
  • internship
  • meta-analysis
  • practica
  • practicum
  • signature pedagogy
  • social work
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology


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