What is Practicum?
Practicum is an opportunity to enhance your professional growth through applying your academic knowledge in a supervised practical work environment. A practicum experience allows you to apply academic learning to “real world” situations, perform meaningful work related to career interests, receive supervision and training, and access the possibilities of permanent employment. Such real world experience will also help with the dilemma of “How do I get a job without experience?” Many of our practicum students have been offered jobs at practicum sites or found a job through the network created by doing the practicum.
Practicum is like an internship. They are not exactly same, but thinking of it as an internship will help you understand and will help you explain it to people who are unfamiliar.
Overview of the Process
- Research possible sites. You can see many past practicum site descriptions in the practicum google folder (you must be logged into your WOU email to gain access)
- Submit the practicum application listing your top 3 choices by the second Friday of the term before you want to do your practicum. You just need an idea of where you want to do it at the time of application.
- Complete the mandatory Online Practicum Informational Module by the second Friday of the term before you want to do your practicum.
- Dr. Roscoe will review your application and check your faculty reference before you get permission to proceed in contacting possible sites.
- Once you get permission, confirm your top site choice with Dr. Roscoe before you contact sites. Tell Dr. Roscoe before you contact your second choice site if you need to move to your second choice.
- Contact your desired site and formalize your intended activities at the site.
- Turn in the Practicum Proposal form by Wednesday of week 6 by 11:59 pm by email to Dr. Roscoe.
- Dr. Roscoe will call proposed site and confirm the placement. Dr. Roscoe will contact you by Friday of week 7 with conformation of the practicum so you can register for the class. Please note that nothing is official until the department and site approve the placement.
- Enroll in PSY 409 after your proposal has been approved.
- Start your practicum hours the first week of classes and attend the PSY 409 class.
When is Practicum Offered? When do I Apply?
Practicum is offered Fall and Spring terms.
You must apply the term BEFORE you want to do the practicum. Therefore, you apply in the Spring for a practicum in the Fall and you apply in the Winter for a practicum in the Spring. Students who wish to continue their Fall practicum into the Winter can do so, but no new practicums as are offered in the Winter.
You start setting up for practicum site early so you will have time to confirm your placement before you register for the practicum course (during registration in week 8).
Where can I do a Practicum?
You can set up practicum at a new site or you can contact a site that has previously had WOU students. Here is a list of some past practicum sites:
Department of Human Services Child Welfare
Family Building Blocks
Polk Family Outreach
Central High School Counseling Office
Marion Victims Assistance
Oregon Lottery Human Resources
Dallas School Psychologist
Oregon Child Development Coalition (OCDC)
Psychiatric Crisis Center
Center Hope and Safety
Polk County District Attorney Victims Assistance
WOU Human Resources
Marion County Crisis Child and Family Services
Jackson Street Youth
Mano a Mano
Trio at Chemeketa
Ash Creek Elementary
Catholic Community Services
Dallas High School
How does credit for Practicum work?
You will get academic credit for practicum, PSY 409. The amount of credit you sign up for determines the number of hours a week you need to complete at your site. Most students take it for 4 credits, 11 hours a week at the site.
If you are taking practicum for:
- 2 credits, you must have 6 hours per week at the site, 60 hours total
- 3 credits, you must have 9 hours per week at the site, 90 hours total
- 4 credits, you must have 11 hours per week at the site, 110 hours total
- 5 credits, you must have 14 hours per week at the site, 140 hours total
- 6 credits, you must have 17 hours per week at the site, 170 hours total
- 7 credits, you must have 20 hours per week at the site, 200 hours total
- 8 credits, you must have 23 hours per week at the site, 230 hours total
What is required for the academic credit?
Most of the academic credit comes from the hours a week you are at your site. Additionally, you must attend the PSY 409 class (ONLINE class) that meets 3 times a term (typically Week 1, 5, and 10) on Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30. These classes are mandatory for doing the practicum.
As a part of the PSY 409 class, you will:
- Submit a weekly time sheet and experience journal
- Complete site evaluation and summary
- Be evaluated by your site supervisor at mid-term and end of term; meet individually with Dr. Roscoe to review your evaluations at mid-term and end of term.
What does PSY 409 count for? Can I take it more than once?
You take PSY 409 for academic credit and it is Pass/NC on your transcript
- Up to 4 credits of PSY 409 can count to the psychology major and the rest (if you do more than 4 credits) count to your 180. If you do more than 4 credits, you can have the additional credits count to a Behavioral Sciences Minor (See Dr. Roscoe for details)
- All credits will count to your 180 if you have already done PSY 411 Mentoring or have other applied credits like Teaching Assistant (TA) or Research Assistant (RA) counting to psychology electives already (4 credit max of “applied” credits)
- Students often take PSY 409 for 4 credits, so that is 110 hours across the 10-week term, 11 hours a week.
- You can take practicum across multiple terms at the same site or different site.
- You can get academic credit for practicum in the Winter when it is not officially offered as long as you start in the Fall and remain at the same site in the Winter.
What are the expectations for a Practicum Site?
Expectation for the Supervisor at your Site:
- You must have a designated supervisor at your site who will oversee you and assign tasks
- You must have regular weekly contact with your supervisor
- Your supervisor needs to fill out an evaluation at mid-term and at the end of the term
Expectations for the Experience:
- The experience must provide meaningful experiences related to psychology (e.g., a special project, research, job shadowing, or sitting in on clients, etc.) A practicum should not be exclusively filing or non-psychology related tasks. Some can be expected, but the majority of your time needs to be meaningful experiences.
- Practicum experience cannot be paid.
What kinds of things do practicum students do?
Examples of tasks a practicum student might do:
- Supervised experience working with individuals and small groups in teaching, coaching, case management, and planning activities
- Shadowing therapy or other professional activities that a practicum student cannot solely perform
- Design and implement projects/programs
- Research/assessments of programs
- Participating in training for the agency
- Limited responsibilities for decision-making
- Application of professional knowledge
- Ideally, taking responsibility for one project from inception to completion
How do I find a Practicum site?
Part of the learning in practicum is finding and setting up a site. Dr. Roscoe will aid you in the process by giving you direction and feedback, but it is your responsibility to get the practicum established.
Look in the Google Folder of past practicum site descriptions. These files are descriptions of past practicum sites that students wrote while doing the practicum. Click on this link and it will take you to a google folder with all the documents (you must be logged into you WOU email to get access). There are often multiple files for the same site if we have had more than one student there. You can read them all to see what each person did, but the contact information may have changed since that person was at the site.
You can do a general internet search for community services. Your practicum site does not have to be at a place where a WOU student has been before. You can find your own new site, but allow for plenty of time as setting a new site can take longer.
How do I contact possible Practicum sites?
When you get the “go ahead” to contact sites, Dr. Roscoe will give you any contact information she has for the sites you are interested in. She will also help you identify who the best contact person is if it is a new site. Dr. Roscoe will also make suggestions of other sites to consider based on your application answers and interests.
Please keep Dr. Roscoe informed on what site you are contacting and if you move to a second or third choice.
Start contact sites as SOON AS YOU GET THE OK, as this process can take a while and your site may have additional task such as a site visit, interview, or background check that need to be completed before approval.
It can be wise to start following up with your second choice if your first choice is taking a while to respond. Be transparent that you are talking to multiple sites, but keeping “another iron in the fire” could be good in case your first choice falls through.
Ideally, you want everything lined up and get your practicum proposal turned in to Dr. Roscoe by the due date of Wednesday of week 6. If you have been actively working with the site and the process (e.g., background check) is not complete by the proposal due date, let Dr. Roscoe know and you can get an extension on the proposals. Extensions will NOT be given to people who wait to contact sites and are now behind in the process.