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Field Education

We believe Field Education is the heart of social work. Field Work courses are an integral part of the total social work education program at Oakland University. Historically the profession of social work has considered field work a primary means of providing students the opportunity to integrate knowledge, value and skills. In field work settings (practicums), students learn by doing. Students are placed in social and human service agencies to gain practice experience working with individuals, groups, families, and communities. They also gain and contribute knowledge related to organizational policy and administration, and to legislation related to populations and funding of social service organizations. Students are expected to apply research knowledge and skills such as reviewing literature related to the field of practice, data gathering regarding client progress, needs of a population, and program outcomes.

These field work opportunities enable students to apply and integrate previous and current learning. Opportunities are available for students to develop knowledge of professional practice at multiple system levels and with a variety of cultural, ethnic, racial, gender and age groups. 

For more information contact Stephanie Brandimarte, Director of Field Education at (248) 370-2502, or [email protected] or Rae Johnson, Coordinator of Field Education at [email protected]

Field Application

All forms and the application for both the MSW or BSW Program are located our Field Education Management System called SONIA. To login to SONIA visit https://oaklandsw.sonialive.com

If you need assistance with your SONIA account, please call 248-370-2371

Students are assigned to a BSW or MSW field instructor for supervision and instruction. They must meet with their field supervisor for one hour per week at minimum. Students are also assigned to a faculty field liaison who oversees the learning experience and assists the student and field instructor in designing appropriate learning activities and in integrating practice theory and practice skills.

Field Learning Plan
An individualized learning plan in the form of a Field Learning Agreement is developed in the beginning of the fall semester jointly between the student, the field instructor, and the field liaison. Its purpose is to identify the learning opportunities and practice experiences that will enable the student to address the goals of the course and to demonstrate the competencies upon which the student will be evaluated.

Field Seminar
Students participate in a field seminar led by the field liaison. The field seminar provides an opportunity for students to broaden their knowledge about community resources, about a variety of models for practicing social work, and to gain consultation on practice issues.

Important Resources and Contact Information
For more information contact Stephanie Brandimarte, Director of Field Education at (248) 370-2502 or [email protected].

Field work allows our students to expand their education beyond the classroom. Field instructors help BSW students apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom in a real-world setting.

The Field Instructor is a Bachelor's or Master’s prepared social worker, with at least 2 years of post degree experience, employed by the agency who is responsible for overseeing the supervision of the student in the field. In addition to providing direct supervision, the Field Instructor is responsible for assuring that the agency provides the student with necessary resources including space, telephones, computers, etc. for performing assignments.

Since the primary goal of field instruction is to help prepare entry level professionals for beginning generalist social work practice, rather than agency service, the primary role of the Agency Field Instructor is educational.

In some situations, students may be assigned to an experienced task supervisor who does not meet CSWE standards as a field instructor, but who helps coordinate the day to day activities of the student. In these cases, close communication is expected between the task supervisor and the field instructor of record, who is responsible for overall supervision and evaluation of the student.

The responsibilities of the Field Instructor are to:

  • Submit the necessary paperwork required for approval as an agency/Field Instructor;
  • Attend the Field Instructor’s orientation meeting and become familiar with the Program’s curriculum and field education program;
  • Interview and approve the student for placement at the agency;
  • Orient student to the agency, its policies and procedures;
  • Facilitate the integration of the student in to the agency;
  • Assist in the development and implementation of the student’s Learning Plan;
  • Design and implement learning experiences that meet the objectives of the program and the student’s professional goals;
  • Provide regular and consistent field instruction supervision with the student (a minimum of one hour weekly);
  • Consult formally with the Field Faculty liaison at scheduled agency visits and informally as the need arises;
  • Inform the Field Faculty Liaison should any concerns about student performance in field arise;
  • Regularly evaluate the student’s field work performance and provide ongoing feedback to the student; and
  • Complete the evaluation forms at the end of each term, consulting with the Field Faculty Liaison in recommending a final grade.

Email Stephanie Brandimarte at [email protected] for the following resources resources:

If you interested in requesting a BSW or MSW Intern, please fill out this form. Our Field Education Director will reach out with additional information and documentation.


Oakland University uses a web-based data management system called Sonia to track all students in their field placement. Through Sonia, the Field Education team and field agencies can communicate more easily with each other and students participating in field education.

How to use SONIA:

Before logging in, all field instructors and students will receive a distinctive"Username" and "Password" sent by the field team.

SONIA login

SONIA Tutorials:

Below is a series of tutorials that briefly overview Sonia. Each tutorial is tailored to your specific role within the university.

  • Login video
  • Student tutorial (login, accessing forms, completing forms, a rough timeline of when forms should be completed in an academic year)
  • Field Instructor/Task Supervisor tutorial (login, accessing forms, completing forms, a rough timeline of when forms should be completed in an academic year)

Sonia is a web-based data management system that effectively stores and generates reports on information about field placement agencies, field instructors, and students. It also keeps track of student assignments throughout various semesters and maintains a historical record. One notable aspect of Sonia is its convenient access to online documents, including learning and safety plans and student evaluations, which can be completed and stored electronically. Additionally, Sonia offers the following features:

  • Provides Oakland University with a paperless solution for tracking and archiving
  • Facilitates communication with students, field instructors, and liaisons
  • Provides the student access to their field placement information
  • Provides field instructors access to student information
  • Allows field instructors access to all required documents in a paperless system
  • Increases communication between Oakland University and field agencies

If you encounter any issues while trying to log in, please contact the Field Education team [email protected] or [email protected].

Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Social Work & Criminal Justice

Varner Hall Room 510A
371 Varner Drive
Rochester , MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2420
fax: (248) 370-4608

Social Work
Varner, Room 513
371 Varner Dr.
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(248) 370-2371
[email protected]