2008 Teaching and Learning Symposium

2:30-4:30 p.m., May 6, 2008
HUB Ballroom

Session Description



"The Internship Class": A Practicum Model for Large Departments

Kevin Mihata, Nika Kabiri, Gretchen Ludwig - Sociology

The classic practicum course works well in professional programs and smaller undergraduate programs. It is more difficult to implement in large departments with high student-faculty ratios and large numbers of majors. Staffing and logistical costs often limit such experiences to a small optional seminars, to independent study, or to service learning components in existing courses. While these are all worthwhile in their own right, we believe it is also worth the effort to more fundamentally connect this kind of learning into the curriculum.

Sociology is developing a practicum course that brings benefits well known to smaller programs—problem-based, experiential learning, a capstone experience, service to the community, and ongoing program assessment—in a model that affordable and sustainable in a large, research-based undergraduate department. We are developing partnerships with a number of organizations where we can place students in ongoing social science research projects. Recent partners include the US Department of Labor, Seattle Public School District, the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, the American Civil Liberties Union, and local community nonprofit groups. We plan to offer a number of practicum sections each quarter; eventually, it will be one of several options for a capstone course required of all sociology majors.

We summarize our model and report on experiences and lessons learned—in the classroom, in working with partners, in developing course curriculum, and working with other instructors—from several different practicum partnerships.



Index of Symposium Presenters