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Master's Program Handbook

500 - Academic & Field Work Performance Standing Committee

500.1 – Role and Function

The function of the Academic and Field Work Performance Standing Committee (the "Committee") is to serve as the body before which all issues pertaining to the academic and field work performance, and personal and professional conduct of master's students and advanced standing students shall come for hearing and disposition. The committee serves in situations requiring a formal review. A subcommittee serves when a more informal consultation is in order and may include other members of the community as appointed by the committee.

500.2 – Committee Composition

a.

The committee shall be composed of the following voting membership:

  1. Those who hold the positions of the chair of the social work practice sequence, the director of field work (or designee), a resident faculty member appointed by the dean (taking into consideration the composition of the committee and who would serve for two years), and the associate dean (chair).
  2. Two students, one first year and one second year, elected by the student body for a two-year term.
  3. A roster of three adjunct faculty who may come from either a field agency or adjunct teaching faculty, only one of whom will participate at any given meeting. Taking into account issues of availability, group composition and possible areas of relevant experience, the chair will determine whom to invite to any particular review.

b.

In the event of a vacancy, conflict of interest or the unavailability of a member, the associate dean may appoint a substitute member. If the vacancy, conflict of interest or unavailability affects the associate dean, the dean may appoint a substitute, who will also serve as chair.

c.

A quorum of the committee shall be four voting members, including at least one student member. If a quorum of the committee is present, the vote of a majority of the members present shall be the vote of the committee.

d.

The chair may invite other persons involved in the student's learning (e.g., supervisor, faculty field adviser, or sequence chair) to attend the review as non-voting participants.

e.

The student may request to have one person of his or her choice who is a member of the school community in good standing to attend the review as a non-voting participant.

500.3 – Review of a Student's Field Work Performance Process

500.3A – Initiating a Review

a.

A student's field work performance is subject to an ongoing and shared assessment by the student's supervisor and faculty field adviser as outlined in the Guidelines for the Field Internship. A review of field work performance may be indicated when any of the following occur:

  1. A student is having difficulty meeting the learning abjectives for field. Examples include but are not limited to:
  • Inability to maintain relationships with clients;
  • Difficulty making active use of supervision and professional feedback;
  • Limited capacity for self-reflection as it relates to the work;
  • Difficulty completing agency paperwork and school assignments;
  • Difficulty sufficiently developing clinical social work skills and knowledge;
  • Difficulty observing clinically appropriate boundaries with clients;
  • Difficulty abiding by the NASW Code of Ethics;
  • Difficulty maintaining professional standards of behavior, including meeting agency and field requirements;
  • Unwillingness to engage with a variety of clients, client issues and clinical modalities;
  • Difficulty working collaboratively with other professionals in the agency and community at large in one's professional social work role;
  • Difficulty reflecting on the role of one's own cultural background and biases as they influence the nature of one's clinical work;
  • Failure to complete the community practice project within the prescribed guidelines and timeframe.
  1. A student is dismissed by an agency for any reason.
  2. Concerns arise regarding professional or personal conduct as outlined in 500.7.

b.

If, in the judgment of the supervisor, the faculty field adviser or the director or associate director of field work, any issues manifested in the student's performance warrant review, they shall submit to the Department of Field Work a written statement, including representative case material, concerning the student's difficulties or deficiencies. The director or associate director of field will assess the request and, if it is decided that a review is appropriate, will notify the associate dean and provide the relevant supporting materials. The associate dean may proceed to a review on the basis of such notice. In the alternative, the associate dean may decided that a review is not warranted and initiate other problem-solving efforts.

500.3B – Notice to Student

When a review is called, the chair will notify the committee and the student of the date and location of the review. The chair may request that the student submit a written statement, including representative case material, if relevant, in response to the identified concerns. The chair's written notice to the student will outline the areas of concern. Because of the nature of the review and its importance to the student and agency, the review will be scheduled as soon as possible. The written statement must be received by the chair at least one week in advance of the review. If the situation demands, the chair may allow a shorter time.

500.3C – Student's Right To Have Non-Voting Participant at the Review

a.

At the time the student submits the written statement, the student may request that a person of his or her choice, who shall be a member of the school community in good standing, be present at the review as a non-voting participant.

b.

The role of the non-voting participant will be to help the student prepare for and present the student's point of view, ensure that the committee has considered the points the student has presented, and that the committee has followed its own stated guidelines. They may also make a statement on behalf of the student and may stay for the committee's discussion. The student's participant may not reveal any of the content of the committee's deliberations. If they feel the committee did not follow its own guidelines, they may take these concerns to the dean of the school.

500.3D – Review Procedures

The following procedures shall apply for a review:

a.

Before the commencement of the review, the voting members of the committee shall meet to define the function and focus of the review.

b.

The review will then proceed, and will include the student, supervisor and faculty field adviser, if appropriate, the student's non-voting participant, the other participants invited by the chair, and the non-voting member representing the field department. If the director of field work is the person who has initially heard the complaints or concerns and has initiated the Review, then the associate director of field work shall attend the review as a voting member. In this case, the role of the director of field work is to present the material to the committee as a non-voting member. If the associate director of field work has been the one to initially hear the complaints or concerns and initiated the review, then the director of field work shall attend the review as the voting member. Ordinarily, the review will start with an overview of the student's field and academic performance presented by the non-voting member representing the field department.

c.

The order of presentations and who shall be present for each presentation will be determined by the chair and will include adequate time for the student to speak on their own behalf. Members of the committee, the student and the student's participant shall have reasonable opportunities to direct questions to each presenter.

d.

After the issues have been discussed to the satisfaction of the committee and all participants, the supervisor, the student, the non-voting member representing the field department and the faculty field adviser will be asked to leave that portion of the review. Further deliberations are conducted by only the voting members of the committee and the student's participant.

e.

The proceedings of the review to the time of point (d), above, shall be tape-recorded. The subsequent committee discussions shall not be tape-recorded. The tape, or a copy thereof, shall be available to the committee and, on request, to the student and the student's participant.

f.

The committee will review the student's performance based upon the statements and written materials presented during the tape-recorded portion of the review. While every effort is made to identify all relevant concerns prior to the review, the committee retains the right to address additional issues that may come up during the course of the review itself.

g.

On the basis of the review, the committee will take one of the following courses of action:

  1. The committee may determine that the student's performance is satisfactory and does not warrant action on the part of the committee.
  2. The committee may mandate a leave of absence, including a medical leave of absence, and outline the goals to be achieved during the leave.
  3. The committee may send a written statement to the student outlining the deficiencies in performance and the requirements necessary to remedy these deficits. The statement will advise the student if a follow-up review of their performance is necessary. If so, the student will be advised of the month in which the follow-up review will occur. The committe may institute a probationary period in which case it will send the student a written statement.
  4. The committee may decide the student has failed field work and dismiss the student.
  5. The committee may determine that a student has failed to complete the learning objectives for field internship and, in assigning a grade of "Incomplete," may mandate a defined period of additional field experience.
  6. The committee retains the right to schedule a follow-up review if the circumstances warrant.
  7. The committee may allow the student to withdraw. See 502.4.
  8. The committee may allow the student to enroll in less-than-half-time status in order to complete the field, research project or Community Practice Project requirements. Appropriate fees will apply. See 600.9.

h.

At the conclusion of the review the chair of the committee shall meet with the student and, if the student wishes, with the student's participant, to discuss the committee's findings and decisions. The chair may ask another committee member to participate in this meeting. Thereafter the chair shall advise the student in writing of the decision of the committee and the student's right to appeal to the dean. The field department will advise the supervisor and the faculty field adviser of the outcome of the review. The decision of the committee will be retained in the student's field department record until seven years after the student's successful completion of or withdrawal from the program.

500.3E – Student's Request to Withdraw or Take a Leave of Absence Prior to a Review

For policy regarding requests to withdraw prior to a review, see 502.4a. For policy regarding requests to take a leave of absence, see 502.1.

500.3F – Follow-Up Reviews

a.

If the student has been placed on probation, the supervisor and the faculty field adviser will be responsible for submitting a written progress report and current assessment of the student's performance to the appropriate representative in the field work department.

b.

The student will be responsible for submitting a written assessment of his or her performance, or a signed waiver of that right, to the field work department, at least one week in advance of the meeting. At the same time, the student may ask to have a member of the school community in good standing present at the second meeting as a non-voting participant.

c.

At the second meeting, the committee will review the statements of the field work department, supervisor, faculty field adviser and student (if applicable) and make one of the following decisions:

  1. Determine that the deficiencies have been remedied.
  2. Determine that the deficiencies have not been remedied and institute a probationary period or extend the previous probationary period which shall include a follow-up review.
  3. Dismiss the student.

500.4 – Consultations on a Student's Field Work Performance

5004A – Purpose

a.

The purpose of a consultation on a student's field work performance is to develop a plan designed to assist in the resolution of learning issues that have been identified by the student, supervisor, faculty field adviser or the director or associate director of field work. Before a consultation is called, reasonable efforts will be made to resolve concerns in conversations among the involved parties. Consultations will occur when such conversations have been insufficient to problem solve the issues at hand. Additional efforts at problem-solving may include but are not limited to multiple party conference calls or face-to-face meetings. The field work department will make all final decisions about calling a consultation.

b.

In most situations, the consultation process will be sufficient to resolve the difficulties. No disciplinary action may result from a consultation. If the performance problems are serious enough and there is still doubt about their future resolution, the review process or a second consultation may be recommended.

500.4B – Composition of Consultation Commitee for Field Work Performance

The Consultation Committee for Field Work Performance shall be composed of the following members drawn from the committee:

a.

Either the director of field work or her designee shall be the chair;

b.

A member of the adjunct faculty;

c.

The second-year student representative;

d.

A member of the school community in good standing, if the student chooses;

e.

The chair may ask the dean to appoint an additional member of the committee at the chair's discretion;

f.

The chair will invite other participants relevant to the student's learning experience (e.g., a supervisor, faculty field advisor, research adviser).

500.4C – Consultation Process for Field Work Performance

a.

The consultation process can be initiated by a student, supervisor, faculty member or faculty field adviser. The requesting individual should submit to the director or associate director of field work, as appropriate, a written statement which will be copied to the student, including relevant materials detailing the student's difficulties, or if called by the student, materials representing the student's concern. The faculty field adviser and supervisor will be notified should a student request consultation with regard to concerns or issues pertaining to their work at the agency.

b.

A consultation may be held either in person or by phone and is typically conducted as a problem-solving session during which the student and the other relevant parties work together to understand the nature of the identified learning issues and develop a plan to assist in their resolution.

c.

At the conclusion of the consultation, the student will be orally informed of the outcome. A written statement of the recommendations of the consultation will be sent to the student within 10 days. No information obtained during a consultation will be placed in the student's permanent record, although a report will be sent to the field office to be kept in a separate file. If a consultation leads to a review, a written statement will be provided to the associate dean by the chair of the consultation committee. The student may add an addendum to the chair's written statement prepared for the review.

500.5 – Consultations on Community Practice Projects

Consultations to address issues of performance on community practice projects may occur if the student has missed deadlines, or if the community practice project supervisor or the community practice project adviser has identified problems or concerns regarding the project. If the concerns are focused solely on the community practice project, the following procedures will be implemented:

a.

The community practice project coordinator will initiate and chair the consultation and will inform the director of field work and the associate dean that the consultation is taking place. The purpose of the consultation is to identify learning issues, develop a strategy for improvement or determine consequences of missed deadlines.

b.

Participants in the consultation will include the student, the community practice project coordinator (chair), the community practice project adviser and a student representative from the committee. At the discretion of the chair, the community practice project supervisor may be involved.

c.

Copies of the plan will be sent to the student, the director of field work, the community practice project adviser and the faculty field adviser. The consultation may be done via conference call at the discretion of the chair.

d.

The outcome will be put in writing and sent to the student, the director of field work, the associate dean, the community practice project adviser and the faculty field adviser. A copy should be retained by the coordinator.

500.6 – Consultations on Academic Performance

Any student who is one grade away from dismissal (see criteria for dismissal at 200.10) may request a Consultation on Academic Performance to assist in identifying and attempting to resolve learning issues. Where possible, each student will be notified by the registrar that such a consultation is available when s/he receives a final grade that places the student in jeopardy of dismissal. In circumstances where students receive multiple marginal passes or failing grades at the same time, prior specific notice of the availability of a consultation on academic performance beyond the notice in this handbook may not be possible.

500.6A – Role of Consultation Committee for Academic Performance

A student’s academic performance is governed by the grading system guidelines (see 200.10). A student in jeopardy of being dismissed from the school may call a Consultation to seek academic guidance and support from the school community. The role of the committee will be to review with the student the nature of the learning difficulties encountered and to attempt to provide problem-solving support and resources to enable the student to remedy the identified difficulties wherever possible. The purpose of this meeting is not to grieve a grade, but to assist the student with learning issues to which the grade has called attention.

500.6B – Composition of Consultation Committee for Academic Performance

The Consultation Committee for academic performance shall be composed of the Chair of the Social Work Practice Sequence or a designee (who will serve as Chair of the Committee), the Director of Field Work or a designee, the second-year student representative of the Committee, and the Chair(s) of the sequence(s) in which the student is having difficulty or a designee. In the event that this sequence is Social Work Practice, the Chair of HBSE or a designee will substitute as Chair of the Committee, with the Chair of Social Work Practice as a member of the Committee. Each consultation committee will include a minimum of one senior member of the resident faculty with administrative responsibility.

500.6C – Consultation Process for Academic Performance

a.

The student will request a consultation through contacting the Office of the Associate Dean who will then refer the matter to the appropriate Chair. The student will prepare a brief document (up to one page) outlining the challenges as s/he sees them and the kinds of support requested, which will be distributed to the committee at the beginning of the consultation.

b.

The Committee Chair will solicit information from relevant faculty members including the student’s academic advisor and relevant course instructors and draft a memo briefly outlining the learning issues/barriers that have been identified, which will be distributed at the consultation. The Consultation will provide sufficient opportunities for the student and the involved faculty members to fully discuss the learning issues and help the student develop a plan through which they may be resolved.

c.

Normally, a Consultation on academic performance will take place during the summer session. The Committee Chair may solicit the participation of additional faculty members such as the course instructor or the student’s advisor if their inclusion is deemed essential to the problem-solving process. The Consultation Committee will decide who, in addition to the student and the Associate Dean, should be informed of its recommendations. The Consultation Committee meeting may provide sufficient consultation around the learning issues identified and require no follow-up. The Consultation Committee may also recommend to the student additional supports outside of the classroom to assist him or her to master particularly problematic content areas. The Consultation Committee may suggest that the student make active use of the Writing Center.

d.

When a Consultation regarding academic performance must occur in the fall, the Chair may use a conference call to hold the Consultation. The Chair will confer with both the Director of Field Work and, in the case of a second-year Master’s student, the Chair of Research, regarding any concerns about the student’s performance. Participants in the conference call will include the student, Chair of the relevant Sequence(s), and a student representative from the Committee. The purpose of the Consultation is to identify learning issues andresources needed. The conference call should result in a clear plan for improving performance. Copies of the plan will be sent to the student and the Associate Dean.

500.6D – Consultation Recommendation to Monitor Future Field Work Performance

When the consultation committee identifies student learning issues that may be relevant to the field, the committee may recommend particular supports or monitoring of the student's field work experience. The committee will make recommendations designed to assist in a smooth and careful transition for the student from academic work to the field, and these recommendations will be given in writing to the student, the faculty field adviser and the field agency.

500.7 – Consultation on Personal or Professional Conduct: Academic and Field

a.

A consultation may be called for personal or professional conduct at any time based on concerns either in the classroom, the field, or with the community at Smith. Any member of the community can inform the associate dean or dean of concerns about personal or professional conduct. The associate dean or dean at their discretion may then call a consultation.

b.

When concerns raised about professional or personal behavior which occur in the summer serve to alert the school to issues which may potentially be relevant to performance in the field, ordinarily a consultation will be the appropriate procedure, except in those instances delineated in 500.8, which require a Review. The committee composition and process will be the same as it is for consultations around academic performance. See 500.6.

500.8 – Reviews of Personal or Professional Conduct: Academic and Field

Personal and professional conduct of a student which calls for a review process and which is subject to dismissal includes, but is not limited to, such matters as the following:

a.

All forms of dishonesty including cheating, knowingly furnishing false information to the school or internship agency, any alteration or misuse of school or internship agency documents, records or instruments of identification.

b.

Theft of or intentional damage to property of the school, college, internship agency or of members and visitors of the above.

c.

Physical abuse of, or threat of physical abuse to, any person on college or internship agency premises, or at school-sponsored or supervised functions.

d.

Conduct involving serious or substantial plagiarism shall automatically necessitate the calling of a review. The role of the committee is to determine whether or not serious or substantial plagiarism occurred. If a determination of serious or substantial plagiarism is made, dismissal is automatic. If a student charged with serious or substantial plagiarism withdraws from the program prior to a review, the student's record shall read "Withdrawn: Pending Review." See 502.4A.

e.

Disruptive behavior in the classroom that interferes with a professor's ability to teach and/or other students' ability to learn.

f.

Verbal abuse of any member of the community including faculty, students and staff.

g.

A violation of the Code of Professional Ethics adopted by the National Association of Social Workers.

h.

A violation of the college's Policy on Substance Abuse and Substance Use (see 702) or its Sexual Harassment and Sexual Relations Policies (see 703).

500.9 – Reviews of Personal or Professional Conduct: Procedures

If the personal or professional conduct to be reviewd occurs while a student is in the field, the procedures governing reviews of field work performance shall apply (see 500.3D). If the conduct to be reviewed occurs during the summer session academic term, the same procedures will govern except that the composition of the review committee will not include agency personnel of the faculty field adviser and may include, at the discretion of the chair, any member of the community whose presence is relevant to the conduct being reviewed.

Updated 10/19/12