Internship and Practicum Experiences

The Role of Practicum in Undergraduate Family Life Education

Linda S. Behrendt

Undergraduate Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) majors at Indiana State University are overwhelmingly traditional-age college students with limited experience working with individuals and families across the life span. In addition, HDFS is most often a “found” major; that is, students tend to come to the major from other disciplines and colleges across campus. In initial advising meetings, students talk about their desire to work with people or to work with children; their actual experience is typically limited to working with young children. The HDFS major initially offered an internship experience as an elective. Unstructured and requiring only completion of hours regardless of how they were fulfilled, internship was viewed as an excellent choice by students who wanted upper- level credit without having to take an actual class. Foundational to the development of a quality internship program were an identified focus and stated outcomes for the experience (O’Neill, 2010). Focus and outcomes supported the integration of high-impact practices (HIPs) in revising the curriculum, in an effort to improve the quality of education in preparing students for graduation and ultimately career success (Kuh, 2008). Simply put, HIPs are “educational practices that research demonstrates have an

L.S. Behrendt (*)

Department of Applied Health Sciences, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN, USA

© The Author(s) 2017

T. Newman, A. Schmitt (eds.), Field-Based Learning in Family Life Education, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39874-7_2

impact on student learning outcomes and progress toward graduation” (McNair & Albertine, 2012, p. 4). Four of the six HIPs will be addressed in this chapter: frequent performance feedback, application to other settings, experiencing diversity, and authentic connections. A pre-internship requirement, referred to as practicum, has employed these HIPs to create a stronger major, in turn more effectively equipping graduates for careers in family life education.

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