Chapter 1

History, Standards, and Signature Pedagogy

Dean Pierce

The journey into the life of a field director begins with an orientation to the history and current context of the accreditation standards.

With the designation of field education as the signature pedagogy of social work education in the Council on Social Work Education’s 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS), confusion about the implications for field education arose.

Chapter 1, History, Standards, and Signature Pedagogy, by Dean Pierce introduces Larry Shulman’s conceptualization of this teaching/learning process. Pierce provides a clear definition of signature pedagogy. He supports his argument that class and field are of equal importance in social work education. At this time in the history of social work education, however, this idea seems more inspirational than the reality. Pierce recognizes that in order to become the signature pedagogy, field needs to be further refined and developed to completely meet all the criteria Shulman proposed.

Subsequent chapters rely on the first chapter’s explication of the current standards and specifically those that affect the work of the field director. Learning how to read, interpret, and adhere to the standards is an ongoing process, one that is important for the management and leadership that a field director provides to students and schools of social work. Dean Pierce recommends areas of further research in field education and sets the tone for a strong message throughout this book.

Field directors must produce scholarly contributions to the social work literature and to the profession. Although scholarship/research may not appear in recruitment job descriptions for field director positions, this activity will propel the respect of field directors in such a way as to give meaning to the statement, “Class and field are equal.”

see Author...



Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). (2015). Educational policy and accreditation standards.

Alexandria, VA: Author. Retrieved from

Pierce, D. (2008). Field education in the 2008 EPAS: Implications for the field director’s role. Retrieved from





Note: Cover design and material from Social Work Field Directors: Foundations for Excellence
by C.A. Hunter, J. K. Moen, and M. S. Raskin (Eds.), (2014) Chicago: Lyceum.
Copyright 2014 by Lyceum Books, Inc. Reprinted with permission.