Introducing BSW Students to Social Work Supervision Prior to Field

A BSW-MSW Student Partnership


  • Amy Killen Fisher University of Mississippi
  • Chris Simmons University of South Florida
  • Susan C. Allen University of Mississippi



Supervision, Supervisee, BSW, mixed methods, training, experiential learning


Little empirical information exists about how social work students are prepared to utilize supervision in practice. This study describes an experiential exercise designed to introduce BSW students to social work supervision prior to their field experience. MSW students enrolled in a supervision practice course provided mentored supervision to 42 BSW students in an introductory skills course. The skills course involved a progressive role-play that spanned the whole semester. Mixed methods were used to investigate BSW student perceptions of the exercise. According to survey data, BSW students reported a strong working alliance with MSW students and high satisfaction with the supervision they received. Qualitative data revealed two overarching categories of students: 1) students who reported benefiting from the exercise, and 2) students who reported mixed benefits or no benefits. Students who understood the role of the supervisor were also more likely to reported that they benefited from the exercise. Students who were unclear about the role of the supervisor reported mixed or no benefits of the exercise. Recommendations for social work educators relate to the need for educators to provide information on the use of supervision for BSW students, the necessity for guiding student reflections as part of the supervision exercises, and considering the developmental levels of students when crafting educational interventions.

Author Biographies

Amy Killen Fisher, University of Mississippi

Amy Killen Fisher is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work. 

Chris Simmons, University of South Florida

Chris Simmons is Instructor in the Department of Social Work.

Susan C. Allen, University of Mississippi

Susan Allen is an Associate Professor and MSW Program Director in the Department of Social Work


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