Planning for learning and learning about planning in social work fieldwork

Document Type

Journal Article


Whiting & Birch Ltd.


Regional Professional Studies


Regional Professional Studies Deans Office




This article was originally published as: Hodgson, D., & Walford, H. (2012). Planning for learning and learning about planning in social work fieldwork. The Journal of Practice Teaching and Learning, 7(1), 50-66. Original article available here


Fieldwork education is a crucial component of social work education. Many social work students regard their placement experiences as the most profound learning experiences of their studies. The students undertake their field placements in a diverse range of organisational contexts, and in so doing perform a myriad of tasks, adopt a variety of roles, implement a range of practices, and engage with numerous people. Needless to say, social work students have a rich set of learning opportunities within such diversity. An important part of the fieldwork process is the development of learning plans; these plans guide and direct the students’ roles, tasks and learning, and are often an important framework by which assessment of competency and learning takes place. However, learning plans presuppose a logical and conceptual clarity, which needs to be learned if they are to be functional and effective documents. This then poses many challenges in relation to how students might develop a learning plan for fieldwork. This paper explores some of the problems, and offers practical guidance, for students and fieldwork educators to develop rational learning plans in diverse and complex contexts.