Experiences of social work students undertaking a remote research-based placement during a global pandemic

G. Lomas, L. Gerstenberg, E. Kennedy, K. Fletcher, N. Ivory, L. Whitaker, E. Russ, R. Fitzroy, M. Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Field education globally, has been highly disrupted by restrictions associated with COVID-19. This disruption has forced many students to engage with online learning. The current article presents a student-led co-operative inquiry exploring the experience of four social work students undertaking a remote research-based placement in regional Australia during a global pandemic. In this inquiry students’ critically self-reflected on the strengths and challenges of remote research-based placements. Despite some initial reservations, the students’ experience was positive overall. This article reports on four key themes that emerged from this inquiry: the translation of social work communication and relationship-building skills to online environments, the development of professional identity in a remote research-based placement, access to supervision in a remote context, and reflection on the experience of completing a research placement guided by the social work value of respect for persons. We conclude that undertaking a remote research placement helped forge students’ appreciation for the role of research in social work, enhanced their communication and research skills, and strengthened students’ sense of professional identity. These findings confirm remote research-based placements can offer relevant and effective placement opportunities that can inform social work field-education heutagogy as we move beyond the restrictions associated with the pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1145-1162
Number of pages18
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2022

Grant Number

  • UCRH


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