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Beyond Problem-Based Experiential Learning: An Applied Research Training Practicum Meghan R. Lowery, M.S. Joel T. Nadler, M.A. Theresa A. Castilla, B.S.*

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond Problem-Based Experiential Learning: An Applied Research Training Practicum Meghan R. Lowery, M.S. Joel T. Nadler, M.A. Theresa A. Castilla, B.S.*"— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond Problem-Based Experiential Learning: An Applied Research Training Practicum Meghan R. Lowery, M.S. Joel T. Nadler, M.A. Theresa A. Castilla, B.S.* Southern Illinois University Carbondale *There has been a change in authorship.

2 Experiential Learning Sufficient training in evaluation theory and practice has been an issue of concern and has spurred ongoing dialogue for a few decades (Trevisan, 2004). The need for hands-on, experiential learning in evaluation and applied research is necessary for successful later practice beyond academic training. Common issues in offering this kind of training include situational constraints, such as limited time within a semester, and high-risk activities for novice practitioners that would require close supervision (Lee, Wallace, & Alkin, 2007).

3 Experiential Learning, cont’d. Survey - gaps between training and application (Dewey et al, 2006) The top competencies sought: 1) report writing 2) relating to clients 3) presentation skills 4) data management 5) research design 22% thought job seekers were meeting requirements for evaluation competency 47% reported minor gaps 31% reported major gaps

4 Experiential Learning, cont’d. Attempts to work around constraints have been used; these have included the use of the case study method, revisiting past evaluation projects, and problem-based learning (PBL). PBL involves a mixture of case studies, role- playing, problem-solving, and subsequent student presentations. These methods, while worthwhile and a promising step in the direction of experiential- based learning, are often limited in breadth and depth.

5 Experiential Learning, cont’d. A literature review (Trevisan, 2004) revealed a small number of training programs that offer a true structured multi-year practicum experience. -Assessment and Evaluation Center established 1997 in the College of Education at Washington State University -Applied Research Consultants, established in 1981 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC)

6 ARC as Experiential Training A brief introduction and review of the SIUC Applied Research Consultants (ARC) program was provided upon its early inception (McKillip, 1986), but is now outdated. This presentation aims to revisit the value of ARC as a student-managed, experiential vertical practicum as compared to other similar evaluation training programs in the literature.

7 ARC Vertical Practicum Director (Ph.D.) Senior Associates (M.A./M.S.) Associates (M.A./M.S. & B.A./B.S.) Shadows (one semester) (M.A./M.S. & B.A./B.S.)

8 ARC & the Applied Program The Applied Experimental Psychology program complements ARC training through classes such as:  Program evaluation  Research methods & design  Advanced Statistics  Measurement

9 Success of ARC The success of the practicum is long- standing (27+ yrs) and dependent upon several factors: –time and availability of students and faculty, –a commitment to the academic experience, –non-monetary support and stability from the Psychology Department, –a steady stream of quality evaluation and other consulting-type projects, –and new and returning client satisfaction.

10 Student Experiences in ARC The program’s success allows for student immersion in all facets of the applied research training experience including, but certainly not limited to: –client interactions, –project management, –data collection and analysis, –in-depth report writing, –and easily-translatable dissemination of information to clients that may not be research- or statistically-savvy (Nadler & Cundiff, 2008).

11 Student Experiences in ARC Student experiences are also enriched with: –student-to-student camaraderie, –working in a team environment, –leading and co-leading projects, –time management, –refinement of oral and written communication skills –and gaining the invaluable experience of running a business.

12 Example of ARC Project (Two Academic Semesters) 40-80 hrs. / 6-10 projects An alumni association Initial client interaction and meetings Survey design Collecting data Writing report Communicating results to client Presented at AEA 2008

13 Applied Research Training Practicum The training ARC provides directly addresses the competencies identified by Dewey et al (2006). 1) report writing, 2) relating to clients, 3) presentation skills, 4) data management, and 5) research design.


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