Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Teresa Dillard


The field practicum is designed to offer students the opportunity to integrate knowledge and practice prior to graduation; however, students continue to lack the ability to connect theory to practice within the field practicum. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the beliefs, attitudes, and perspectives of social work students regarding the application of theory to practice within the field practicum. The conceptual framework included concepts of empowerment, empowerment theory, and social constructivism. The research question addressed how social work students at a local university described the issues related to connecting theory to practice within the field practicum. Data collection involved interviews with 6 social work practicum students, observations, and document analysis. Data were coded and analyzed to identify 4 themes: learned theories, concerns, theory to practice, and student beliefs related to theory and practice. Findings confirmed students' inability to connect theory to practice. Findings were used to develop a project incorporating simulated learning environments in social work curricula to increase the connection of theory to practice. Findings may be used to enhance students' ability to integrate theory into practice, which may strengthen the profession of social work through improved service delivery at local, state, national, and global levels.