Leveling the (Playing) Field: How Can We Make Inclusive Field Education a Reality for International Students?

Kathleen FELTON
The University of Queensland, Australia

The University of Queensland, Australia

The University of Queensland, Australia

The University of Queensland, Australia


Despite the importance of field education in professional degree programmes, such as social work and education, minimal attention has been given to what constitutes 'inclusive field education'. Research into inclusive pedagogy - that is, pedagogy based on principles of access, equity, participation, valuing difference and institutional commitment to inclusion -has focused on traditional, on-campus learning environments (e.g., Hockings, 2010). This is concerning, particularly in light of studies showing that international students do not experience a level playing field when it comes to field education (Harrison & Ip, 2013; McCluskey, 2008). This showcase presents highlights from a study (authors' names removed for review purposes) which investigated the challenges of ensuring field education is inclusive for international students and outlined a model for addressing them. Phase one of the study was a needs analysis (Altschund & Kumar 2010, p.4), consisting of a literature review and in-depth guided interviews with 14 university staff responsible for student field practicum experiences. Purposive sampling ensured that the 14 participants were a representative mix of programme directors (academic staff) and practicum coordinators (professional staff), from a range of social science disciplines and from three Australian universities. Individual interviews were recorded, transcribed and analyzed thematically. Analysis of the interview data focused on university staff's key concerns and suggestions regarding the respective roles of field supervisors and the university could play in providing more inclusive field education. These findings informed the development of a model for inclusive field education based on a set of core principles that have broad applicability across the social sciences. This model will be presented and discussed in this showcase.

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