Reflective College Student

Field Work Term Assessment

Field Work Term (FWT) provides students a platform for integrating classroom study with work in the world.

Capacity Development

Throughout Field Work Term, students develop capacities central to the Bennington curriculum: the abilities to effectively inquire, research, create, engage and communicate. In addition to developing these core capacities, students also develop work-readiness competencies. Together these serve as a foundation for student reflection and learning through field work.

Field Work Term Assessment 

A student’s final Field Work Term assessment is based on: adherence to due dates, supervisor evaluation(s), meeting the required number of work hours, updating your resume and Handshake profile to reflect your recent FWT experience, completing quality reflective assignments, and compliance with the Field Work Term student-employer agreement.

Adherence to Due Dates

FWT is an opportunity for students to experience the world of work and to be assessed on their performance based on how the professional world operates. For this reason, FWT due dates for site applications and profile setup on Handshake, registration, reflective assignment submission, supervisor evaluations, and timesheets are firm, and students will be held accountable to these dates. If due dates are missed, a final FWT assessment may be adversely affected.

As Handshake is the College's resource to connect students to prospective employers, it is essential that students learn to present their professional and life experience in a compelling way. With this in mind, all students are required to set up a profile on Handshake and to upload their professional resume for review and feedback by the FWT registration due date.

Employer Evaluations

Written evaluations of student performance are required from all FWT supervisors for primary jobs. These evaluations become part of a student’s permanent academic record and are considered in a student’s final FWT assessment by the College. Late or poor evaluations may adversely affect a student’s FWT assessment.

Required Hours

Students are required to complete 200 hours of work. Students can work all of the 200 hours at up to two primary sites, or have the option to use 60 hours towards a supplemental position at a secondary site.

Reflective Assignments

Reflective assignments are due on the last day of FWT for all students.

First-year students: First-year students are invited to reflect on the work that they have just completed over FWT and translate their learning into accomplishment statements on an updated resume, following the Bennington Resume Guide. To complete this assignment, first-year students will receive a Handshake survey form that guides them through the process of updating their resume. Students are expected to respond to this survey, then follow the instructions provided to upload their resume to Handshake and update their Handshake profile accordingly. Students' resumes and Handshake profiles are reviewed as part of the overall FWT assessment, and students may receive feedback on their materials. If incomplete, students will be asked to resubmit their resume and profile.

Returning students: FWT provides the opportunity to consider your work and growth in relation to your evolving goals, academic inquiries, and emerging professional identity. In addition to updating their resume and Handshake profile, returning students must choose one of the two reflective options outlined below.

Option One is to submit responses to four reflective essay questions, via the Handshake survey emailed to students midway through FWT. If you choose this option, you will be asked to answer each of the questions below with a maximum of 300 words (one paragraph per question), showing your ability to refine and condense your thoughts to present key ideas clearly and succinctly. Your answers to these questions will be shared with your academic advisors.

  • Strengths: What did FWT teach you about yourself and your strengths in the working world?
  • Skills: In what areas did you experience the greatest growth in your personal and professional development? Provide one or two examples of new skills/knowledge that you acquired and how.
  • Interests: How did the field work experience help expand or re-shape your pursuits and interests?
  • Values: What core values guide the work you do? Were you able to work in alignment with those values over FWT? Why/why not?

If you prefer a type of reflection aimed at integrating your FWT experience into proactive next steps, Option Two is to write a sample cover letter for a future job application, in addition to updating your resume and Handshake profile. The cover letter could be for any hypothetical or real employer in a field of interest. Your cover letter will be reviewed as part of your overall FWT assessment and feedback will be provided, but your letter will not be shared beyond the FWT Office. If you choose this option, instructions for submitting your cover letter are provided in the Handshake survey that was emailed to students midway through FWT.

Student Conduct

Behavior in violation of the FWT Student Employer Agreement may adversely affect a student’s final FWT assessment, depending on the circumstances. In rare cases, behavior may also result in disciplinary action if in conflict with the policies outlined in the Bennington College Handbook.

Assessment Details 

Based on the evaluation criteria outlined above, a student will receive an assessment of “Pass,” “Marginal Pass,” “Fail,” or “Incomplete” for FWT.

A FWT final assessment, FWT job title, and the name of the site will appear on a student’s academic transcript. All supervisor evaluations will become part of the student’s permanent academic file. Supervisor evaluations do not accompany a transcript unless specified when requesting a transcript from the Dean’s Office. If a student does not annually receive a “Pass” or “Marginal Pass” for FWT, they are required to make up the requirement, usually during the summer. FWT makeups must be successfully completed before approval for graduation can be given.

  • Pass – Denotes that a student has satisfactorily met all FWT assessment criteria.
  • Marginal Pass – Acknowledges that a student has met the FWT requirements for the year, but has not satisfactorily met all FWT assessment criteria.
  • Fail – Signifies that a student has unsatisfactorily met a critical portion of the assessment criteria. A FWT Fail assessment remains part of a student’s academic file and official transcript. Failure to successfully complete an FWT can adversely influence a student’s academic status. The Associate Dean of the College will determine the impact of a failed assessment on a student’s academic standing. Students who are issued a Fail assessment are given two weeks within which they may contact the FWT Office if they wish to contest their assessment.
  • Incomplete – Students with medical, personal, or family-related issues may be granted an incomplete, allowing them to fulfill the FWT requirement over the summer without academic penalty. Students who complete at least half of their required hours may be eligible for a half incomplete. The FWT director determines this assessment on a case-by-case basis. Students who wish to be considered for an incomplete or half incomplete should contact the FWT director as early as possible. A half incomplete refers to hours completed only. Students granted a half incomplete at the discretion of the FWT director are required to provide a reflective project and employer evaluation for hours completed in the winter and summer.

The following are examples of the conditions under which a student may be eligible for an incomplete if they remain in immediate, regular contact with the FWT Office:

  • Medical Emergency: Students requesting a medical incomplete will be asked to submit paperwork—including a doctor’s note of necessity—for a medical withdrawal and may be asked to provide clearance information for spring reentry. Only urgent medical issues are considered.
  • Personal/Family Issues: Such issues might include a terminally ill family member or a recent death in the family.
  • Employer/Housing Issues: Though it is extremely rare, students are occasionally granted an incomplete due to unforeseen employer/housing circumstances. In such cases, a student must pursue a backup job search approved by the FWT Office.
  • Workplace concern issues: Such issues might include alleged harassment or discrimination, feeling of unsafety, or being unable to complete an FWT due to inappropriate or inadequate supervision.