Practicum instructor resources

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Practicum Recognition Luncheon

STAR system access

STAR is UW Seattle's web-based system for coordinating practicum placements, learning contracts and evaluations. Effective June 2012, it has replaced all paper-based forms at UW Tacoma as well. If you have been trained on this system with practicum students from Seattle, you may also use it for your Tacoma students. Otherwise, we will be sponsoring a series of trainings to bring all task instructors and practicum instructors up to speed. STAR system access is available to all TIs and PIs at this time if you have a UW NetID. Individuals without a UW NetID will need to set up access through Protect Network.

BASW Practicum (TSOCWF 415)

MSW Foundation Practicum (T SOCW 524)

MSW Advanced Practicum (T SOCW 525)

Field Education Expectations

"Practicum" is an educational/learning experience required for academic credit.
One of the many purposes of Field Education is to provide a “practicum” experience for social work students that prepares them for autonomous professional social work practice/leadership. Field Education is the central pedagogy of social work education and is structured around a classroom experience. The integration of theory and practice is central to social work education and students are required as part of their academic program to have supervised field learning experience/s (practicum/s) where required competencies and practice behaviors are mastered. These learning experiences are under the supervision of a Field Instructor from the agency of placement and a Field Faculty member from the Social Work Program. 
These learning experiences are not work opportunities or job experience; on the contrary they are supervised educational/learning experiences. Students do not have independent responsibility/decision making authority and must receive their assignments/guidance/plan for learning from the Field Instructor and/or Field Faculty. 
Students are required to engage in the development of a Learning Contract with the Field Instructor and Field Faculty member from the Social Work Program. The Learning Contract spells out specific learning activities for the academic year. Students and Field Instructors meet weekly at a minimum to discuss learning activities from a Social Work perspective and to evaluation learning/mastery of the competencies. 
In addition to other conversations and information we have and will be sharing with you related to the field education experience the information below is provided with hopes of being clear as to expectations of students while they are in placement for their field education learning experience. This learning experience is educational in nature and based on articulated competencies and practice behaviors and is attached to academic credit. It is anticipated/expected students cooperate with the Social Work Program/their assigned Field Faculty to ensure at all times they are engaged in a supervised learning/educational experience. This experience is not a job/work nor should it be viewed at any time as taking the place of agency staff or workload mitigation. 
We encourage you to contact our Office of Field Education if you have any questions.  Please contact Tom Diehm, UW Tacoma Field Coordinator at 253-692-5823 or email him at

Fair Labor Standards: Regulations and Criteria

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) established regulations regarding internship programs in relation to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). (PDF)
A practicum placement may be considered exempt from minimum wage and overtime requirements if it meets all six of the following criteria developed by the Department of Labor: 
1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment; 
2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern; 
3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff; 
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded; 
5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and 
6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship. 
If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern. The Council on Social Work Education has reviewed this information and has released a statement clarifying that any unpaid social work field education placements must meet all 6 of the DOL criteria. At this time, CSWE has indicated that these same criteria apply even to placements in the public and not-for-profit sectors.  

Council on Social Work Education: Policy and Standards for Field Education

From the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) statement (PDF):
Field education, as articulated in the CSWE Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards, is clearly within the guidelines of the Department of Labor regulations for an educational internship and does not require payment. Social work field education meets the following stipulations: 
  • Field education is associated with an academic program at an accredited institution of higher learning.
  • Field education is structured around a classroom or academic experience, with articulated learning objectives/competencies.
  • The college or university exercises oversight over the internship program and provides educational credit.
  • The field education experience is supervised by social work program personnel; there is an agreement between the program and the field site and a learning contract between the student and the site. 
  • The Social Work Field Education program is meant to be solely educational and provide training to prepare the professional social worker.  It is not meant to supplant or replace existing employees of social work within the field education program site.  
  • The field placement is meant to provide an educational and training opportunity to the social worker, and is not meant to provide any immediate advantage to the employer or the field site.

Contact info

If you have questions or concerns, contact Tom Diehm, Practicum Coordinator (MSW) or Christopher Barrans, Lecturer (BASW).

Library privileges

Library privileges for Field Instructors on a universal basis are no longer available through the UW Library system. You may, however, be eligible for privileges through another means, whether or not you currently have a social work student under your supervision. One of the following may work for you:

  1. If you have Affiliate Instructor status with UW Tacoma and/or UW Seattle, your Husky card and UW NetID will give you free access to full library services.  For more details, please link to:
  1. If you are a certified K-12 staff member (teacher or ESA), you have access to basic library services. For more details please link to:
  1. If you are a licensed social worker in Washington (either LASW or LICSW), you may access UW library resources through HEAL-WA (Health Evidence Resource for Washington State). To set up your account, please link to:

If you have questions, please contact the Library Accounts Office