The SL&D Practicum: EPS 754
In the latter part of your Higher Education Administration Student Life & Development studies, you will engage in a one-year, 6-credit practicum experience across fall and spring semesters. Our students discover the effort they invest in these real-world opportunities yields rich rewards, including invaluable insight into day-to-day student affairs administration, exploration of career choices, and enhanced marketable skills and confidence.
Far beyond an ordinary internship, the practicum is a comprehensive course (EPS 754) in which students gain analytical and reflective thinking and writing skills under faculty guidance while engaging in front-line student affairs activities.
Our practicum meets standards of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), the pre-eminent force for promoting standards in student affairs, student services, and student development programs; it also follows the best practices and ethical principles of NASPA, the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession, and of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA).
This course is the most effective way to learn about higher education in practice. I have gained knowledge I will use.
We were truly challenged to think critically about our experiences at our practicum sites, which is an important piece of this class: purposeful reflection.
Features of the Practicum
- To gain in-depth understanding of a specialized area in student affairs and higher education, students take part in supervised on-site activities for at least 140 hours per semester (about 10 hours a week for 14 weeks); they keep a log of their hours and activities and are in constant contact with the faculty course coordinator;
- Guided by the faculty coordinator, students produce detailed “Learning Contracts” with their on-site supervisors. The contracts lay out what students hope to achieve in the experience, including a clear purpose, goals and objectives, learning activities, and skills and competencies to be developed;
- Their ongoing synthesis and analysis of classroom and on-the-job learning are central to the practicum. Students make weekly entries in “Reflective Journals,” documenting meetings, tasks, interactions, and observations from the prior week on-site, and reflecting on their meaning – articulating connections to theory and research where applicable;
- Reflections continue in weekly faculty-led seminars; students are led through a meditative sequence in which they respond in writing to such prompts as: “What did your experiences and observations this past week cause you to think about? . . . How do your values and preferences affect how you interpret the experience?”
- During the seminars, students also take turns leading discussions of readings and assigned papers that follow APA style and format. Texts and peer-reviewed journals used in 2017 included:
- Learning through supervised practice in student affairs (Janosik, Cooper, Sanders & Hirt, 2015)
- Contested issues in student affairs: Diverse perspectives and respectful dialogue (Magolda & Baxter Magolda, 2011)
- Job one. 2.0: Understanding the next generation of student affairs professionals (Magolda & Carnaghi, 2014)
- Student services: A handbook for the profession (Schuh, Jones, Harper & Associates, 2012)
- College Student Affairs Journal, Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Higher Education, Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice
- The practicum culminates in a spring semester Practicum Project consisting of:
- A reflective, analytical report on the experience in which relevant student development and organizational theories, research findings and concepts are applied and discussed
- An oral poster presentation of the report to a panel of faculty, practicum site supervisors, and alumni.
In weekly seminars, faculty lead students through a meditative sequence of prompts such as “What did your experiences and observations this past week cause you to think about? . . . How do your values and preferences affect how you interpret the experience?”
Each student identifies and obtains an appropriate site for the practicum. Prospective sites in 2017 included:
Dean of Students Office
Student Activities & Organizations
EM/Retention (Cane Success Center)
Multicultural Student Affairs
School of Law
Toppel Career Center
International & Scholar Services
Shalala Student Center
Office of Graduate & Post-Doctoral Studies, Miller School of Medicine
Planning & Institutional Research
Real Estate & Facilities
Financial Assistance Office
Civic & Community Engagement Office
Florida International University
Academic Advising Center
Enterprise Resource Planning
Keiser University (Kendall Campus)
Various campus offices