International Field Experience in Social Work: Outcomes of a Short-Term Study Abroad Programme to India
This paper describes the development of an accessible, short-term (two-week) international field experience programme for distance education and on-campus social work students at a regional university in Australia. Pre-programme and post-programme evaluation surveys were undertaken and results indicate that the international study experience had significant positive impacts on student learning, student group cohesion, professional commitment and motivation as well as an enhanced appreciation of international social work, grassroots community development work, cultural diversity, human rights and social justice issues. Other positive impacts included ongoing relationships with social justice projects in India and positive, practical contributions to placement agencies during the active phase of the programme. The need for adequate academic preparation, reciprocity, as well as ongoing academic support and facilitation of short-term study abroad programmes is reinforced.