Practicums are field experiences that allow a student to observe and document how working professionals perform their job responsibilities. Compared to observership, practicums allow some level of participation from students beyond just watching and listening. In practicums, students participate to a limited extent in performing tasks under the supervision of an on-site professional practitioner. Some general characteristics of practicum include: shadowing of more assigned employees who guide the on-site practicum experience, applying theories and methods studied in real-world situations, recording data or assisting with tasks as assigned by practicum supervisor, and completing practicum course requirements. Participation at a practicum site usually runs two or three times a week for a few hours per session. Students who do practicum qualify for academic credit but are not paid. While expectations associated with practicum differs across varied disciplines, all practicums provide students the opportunity to practice or implement concurrent course learning. At Missional University practicums are integrated within e-courses so students will have the opportunity to implement concurrent learning.
Practicums are also beneficial to students. First, practical experience “puts education theory into practice” making it relevant. Practicum work also provides students exposure to real-world learning experiences, thus preparing them better for their careers and towards being responsible contributing members of their respective communities. The second benefit of the practicum is that it teaches students volunteerism. Many practicums are service-learning in nature-- students serve in the community. Studies indicate that volunteer work enhances five aspects of personal well-being, namely: happiness, life satisfaction, sense of control over life, physical health and positive mood.1 Third, practicum enhances knowledge and skills and helps build student’s self-esteem thus preparing them better to enter the workforce. 2
1 Peggy A. Thoits and Lyndi N. Hewitt, “Volunteer Work and Well-Being”, Journal of Health and Social Behavior 42 (June 2001): 115-131, accessed July 20, 2018, https://bit.ly/2OiFmK0
2 Cheryl A. Stevens, “Practical Experience, Improved self-esteem among Benefits of Service Learning”. Human Kinetics, accessed July 20, 2018, https://bit.ly/2Om6DLA