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Michael S. Miller, Dean of Student Affairs

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1 Improving Students’ Learning Through Internships: An Outcomes-Based Approach
Michael S. Miller, Dean of Student Affairs Joseph Coyne, Assistant Dean and Director of Career and Counseling Services Polina Reyngold, Graduate Psychology Student Golden Gate University, San Francisco, CA 1999 ACPA Convention

2 Introduction Objectives of this Presentation
Assumptions: Significance, Assessment, Outcomes Golden Gate University/Internships Study #1 Study #2 Quality Internship Experience

3 Objectives of this Presentation
To review the results of two qualitative studies conducted on students’ experiences of internships at Golden Gate University. To review and discuss the use of qualitative research by professionals in student affairs. To brainstorm possible mechanisms that contribute to learning in an internship experience.

4 Significance Internships lead to reported gains in retention and graduation (Gregory, 1990). Need to evaluate the kinds of learning outcomes attained, impact on personal and cognitive development (Kerka, 1990).

5 Assessment Assessment in higher education, in its narrowest terms, is the collection of data in order to know how to design or redesign programs and services to meet students’ needs. In its broadest terms, assessment is a means to identify and improve ways students learn and develop (Loacker & Mentkowski, 1993). Assessment practices integrate the notions of affective development and cognitive development with competencies integral to the curriculum and educational experiences of students (Loacker & Mentkowski, 1993).

6 Outcomes Are what assessment is designed to measure.
Learning outcomes best measured at the program level. Clear and concise measures on which the student will be evaluated. Measures should include methodology to get there. Specific goals are better than “do your best”.

7 Golden Gate University
Prepares students for successful professional careers through programs of exceptional quality that integrate theory with practical experience. Pioneer in the case-study method of instruction, recognized for scholar-practitioner faculty who bring real world problems and events into the classroom.

8 Questions and Issues To understand more about the internship experiences of students, we collected data to examine what happens in the internship experience. We wanted to understand: What constitutes a quality internship experience?

9 Study #1 To examine the perspectives that students have about their internship experiences. To identify methods of evaluating students’ academic performance as it relates to their internship experiences. Overview of Study

10 Research Questions What relationships exist between the content students studied in courses and the work students performed in their internships? How do students believe they should be academically-evaluated for the work they do during an internship?

11 Research Questions What information (i.e., grading, work expectations, competencies) are students provided before they begin their experience? What are the most significant factors related to learning that students experience while they are working?

12 Outcome #1 Participants reported that the internship experience should be an opportunity to apply concepts from the classroom to the work setting; however, not every internship opportunity allowed students to apply what they had learned.

13 Outcome #2 Participants reported similarities in how they were evaluated and none of the students were given a set of learning objectives before they started.

14 Outcome #3 Participants reported various learning experiences that were related to professionalism.

15 Outcome #4 Participants exhibited a sense of “cognitive complexity” in their interviews, which may have been related to the processes of the internship experience, and not necessarily to the content of the experience.

16 Internship Objectives
I gained skills in the job search process, including how to write an effective resume, interview successfully, and research employers. I had the opportunity to test and examine my ideas and expectations about my chosen career field. I gained confidence in my ability to prioritize work, meet deadlines, and make decisions in the work place. I improved my ability to manage time effectively.

17 Internship Program Organizational Issues Students Administration

18 Questions and Issues Internships are an opportunity to “Apply” Theory from the Classroom to the Work Setting. Everyone assumes they are learning experiences, but are they? If they are learning experiences, what learning takes place? How does learning take place in an internship setting?

19 New Questions Are there common experiences to all internships?
How do students learn in the internship setting? What constitutes a quality internship experience?

20 Study #2 To identify mechanisms that lead to students’ learning at an internship. Overview

21 Research Questions What makes an internship experience a meaningful learning experience? How is an internship experience different than “on the job” experience? How do students apply what they know in an internship experience (in other words, what mechanisms do they use)? What types of learning gains do students experience during an internship?

22 Focus Group Questions If you were sitting around in the Plaza Cafe with friends and, you were telling them about the internship you were taking, what would we hear you saying? In relationship to challenges you have had in your internships, would you talk about things you learned while working at your internship?

23 Initial Observations After examining the transcripts, and conducting a content analysis, we saw some patterns emerging. Some common learning process features apparently existed across all internships.

24 Forward Application The process whereby an intern is presented with a problem on site and uses concepts learned in class or from other work experiences to approach the problem. Reflective Dialogue- Process review with supervisors, colleagues on site, other students. Reflective Monologue- Personal review.

25 Example 1: Forward Application
Well, I actually used something I got out of a group process class today for one of my groups. So a lot of stuff really does apply.

26 Example 2: Forward Application
I was talking about therapy groups and that particular duty I do a lot several times a day! There has been one thing that’s kind of helped me to use things from the classrooms. Sometimes forces me to use things from the classroom! Depending on the topic, sometimes I am able to use research that I have done for papers from classes to help me as well.

27 Example 3: Forward Application
My major is software engineering, but my current position is in QA. It is not totally programmable engineering…so it was good in terms of bringing the knowledge I learned from class to work. Yeah, all the things I am doing, most of the knowledge applies I gained from my past experience.

28 Example 4: Forward Application
I feel that my schoolwork has been invaluable. Um, the reason I say this is because, um, I’m one of two MFCCs and the rest of the interns are all MSWs and I feel that we have a lot more, um, background in clinical issues and law ethics that the MSWs.

29 Example 5: Forward Application
So, I found my schoolwork, my academic, to be very useful to me, especially because we’re dealing with such severe cases of child abuse.

30 Example 6: Forward Application
... I learn a lot through doing and making the connections between work and school. It has helped me to hold on to the information from school. I find ways to apply it rather than just kinda thinking about it in the abstract. I am hoping that someday, when the times comes for me to use it, I will remember what it is and what to do with it.

31 Failed Forward Application
Failed Forward Application may lead to Navigating the system or unforeseen learning outcomes.

32 Unforeseen Learning The process whereby an intern is presented with a problem, and upon action realizes benefits not expected.

33 Example: Unforeseen Learning
I am learning how much I like what I do, despite the intensity of the work. That’s pretty good, for a start. At the same time I’m learning to interact with children who I love. They’re great, and so are the families. I’m learning to just go out and do it - and that’s just the way you learn - just to jump in and start doing things. So it’s been a good experience ah, very challenging.

34 Navigating the System The process whereby an intern is presented with a problem on site and attempts to solve the problem by using social and personal skills as well as resources available on site to solve the problem.

35 Examples: Navigating the System
Of course, I’m learning a lot about how to navigate the system in that, I mean by um, I’m learning a lot about resources, how to link clients to resources. I’m learning a lot about, um, a lot of clinical issues. I’d probably be talking about something challenging or difficult that happened during the day. And talking about the coworkers with whom I share the load, as it were. I have a pretty strong team of counselors that I work with. So that actually makes the job enjoyable. We all work very closely together and take care of each other. It can be pretty intense work.

36 Reverse Application The process whereby an intern is presented with a problem on site, and there is no apparent immediate application or approach to the problem. Subsequently, the intern employs problem solving, reasoning, critical thinking, and self-regulatory skills to approach and learn from the problem. Reflective Dialogue- Process review with supervisors, colleagues on site, other students. Reflective Monologue- Personal review.

37 Example 1: Reverse Application
Well, I have again, taking a class in group process right now, how to work with groups. And I have brought in some of my experiences in the job into that class. Specifically, asking questions about when you have a room full of 20 people and you ask them a question and nobody answers, how to deal with that? Just practical stuff that I bring back to the class and try to process in class with the professor or just experiences that relate to what’s happening.

38 Example 2: Reverse Application
We are talking about a particular client and we are trying to figure out why is this client not interacting with me in the way I would hope or not interacting with other people in the community in the way I would hope, what is going on? Talk about in terms of object-relations theory or a variety of different theories I learned in school. So when he talks in those various ways, I understand what’s going on. We can address, well, are we talking about the clients past, what is going on in the present. We can approach it from a variety of different ways. I couldn’t do that if I hadn’t been in school.

39 Example 3: Reverse Application
Owner is very good, has been in the advertising industry for more than 15 years, no problem for him to keep his company that way. But the company will not be growing if he doesn’t work something out. So when I got in, I consulted with my professor and made some recommendations and suggestions to the owner for a new organization structure.

40 Process of Change and Learning During an Internship

41 Example 4: Reverse Application
I don’t have much experience and so when I learn something [at school] I bring it into my job or internship. They’re gonna say that we don’t have a HR department, we don’t have a budget and we don’t have the time. Everyone knows it’s a good idea, but there is not time and no one wants to do it and no one cares about it, how could we do it? You sit there and they say, no, no, no, we don’t have that, we don’t have this! How are you going to change an organization? What we learn in school through the case method is that every company has everything, they can hire a new guy, they have the budget. In the real world, it’s a different way, so this is my problem and still is.

42 Example 5: Reverse Application
I would say that the way I am thinking is different, changing, different from when I was an undergraduate. I am thinking in terms of the whole organization not just individual departments and its kind of interesting for my employer. The MBA program has helped me to see the big picture. Not to think of a business as a department but from the point of a whole organization.

43 Example 6: Reverse Application
I am not going to say I learned this in class and listen, I am going to teach you. It is not going to work because the people in my company, don’t respect education or school at this level. Someone there told me one time, this is not like an MBA program. School teaches you in the term of multi-organization, but in the real world, how many multi-organizations are there? Most of the people are working the small company. So when I speak up for something, its like a dream for them. They’re not going to listen, they have a lot of work, many calls coming in, and sales to makes. This is a problem of a small company.

44 Responses from Faculty: What is a Quality Internship Experience?
“I want our students to be able to practice and apply what they are learning. Through this I think they get: Confidence Polish and sensitivity to nuance the opportunity to explore different modalities of treatment and different treatment populations Networking opportunities for mentors, colleagues, and marketing contacts more expertise.”

45 Responses from Faculty: What is a Quality Internship Experience?
“A meaningful experience that fits their academic work.” “A practical opportunity to apply what they are learning.”

46 Responses from Faculty: What is a Quality Internship Experience?
An opportunity for students to be introduced to the work they will perform on the job.

47 Questions and Discussion

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