OFR Seed Grant Awarded for Development and Study of Anti-Oppressive-Based Field Preparatory Lab
According to the Council on Social Work Education, Field internships are the signature pedagogy of social work education. As such, NYU Silver’s Office of Field Learning and Community Partnerships strives to prepare our students for success in their Field experience. With a seed grant from NYU Silver’s Office for Research, Clinical Associate Professor Nicholas Lanzieri and Clinical Assistant Professors Anne Dempsey and Juhi Malhotra will advance those efforts by creating and studying the effectiveness of a new Field Preparatory Lab designed to better prepare students for anti-oppressive practice in the Field setting.
The new Lab, slated to launch in Spring 2022, will complement NYU Silver’s existing integrated Social Work Practice and Field Learning courses for Generalist Practice MSW students.
Explained Dr. Lanzieri, “While social work educators have developed seminars and labs to prepare students for their professional internships in the past, few studies have investigated the effectiveness of such preparatory courses. Based on the outcomes and findings of the limited previous research, we will develop a Field Preparatory Lab that will be administered remotely to students prior to the start of their Field placements, through which they will participate in reflective exercises and technology-based simulations focused on anti-oppressive praxis, engagement, and positionality.”
Dr. Dempsey added, “Schools and their agency partners expect students to be able to incorporate anti-oppressive praxis into their work very early in the MSW program, oftentimes without much grounding in the theory or capacity to put the theory into praxis. Our Lab will have at its core the introduction of antiracist and anti-oppressive theory. It will provide a unified curriculum and support system that prepares students to work with marginalized clients and communities, and will be developed with input from valued agency partners to ensure it responds to the field’s current needs. Moreover, the Lab itself will be designed to be equitable, accessible, and flexible, with uniform modules students can complete at their own pace.”
The expectation is that the new Lab will enhance students’ readiness to operationalize key social work competencies and antiracist and anti-oppressive theories in the context of a field placement setting prior to entering practice with marginalized and vulnerable clients and communities. Professor Malhotra said that the study team will conduct a randomized controlled experiment comparing knowledge of anti-oppressive practice and core competencies, engagement skills, and self-assessed counseling skills among 30 MSW students randomly selected to receive the Field Preparatory Lab (the intervention arm) and 30 MSW students not enrolled in the Lab (the control arm). Students in each arm of the study will complete a pre-test before the intervention arm begins the Lab, a post-test after the intervention arm completes the Lab, and a second post-test at the end of the semester. In addition, at the end of the semester, Field Instructors supervising students from each arm of the study will be asked to complete questions related specifically to the students’ preparedness for fieldwork.
Based on the results of the pilot, the investigators will gauge whether a Field Preparatory Lab should be implemented more widely within the School’s MSW program and integrated within the Practice/Field curricula, and assess whether the findings warrant additional research.
Clinical Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Field Learning and Community Partnerships Virge Luce and Associate Professor and Director of the MSW Program Ernest Gonzales are consultants on the project, as is Kenta Asakura of Carleton University School of Social Work.