The Human Social Services Practicum experience combines classroom instruction with a minimum of 135 hours (per practica) of defined learning experiences at a local Human Social Service Agency per semester. Human Social Service Majors are required to two practica. All practicum courses have prerequisite courses and are noted in the catalog.
The Practicum experiences are designed to provide students with a long-term practical learning experience focusing on progressive skill development and understanding. Practicum seminar classes meet for 80 minutes weekly. Students are required to complete 135 agency hours per semester. Due to the progressive skill development, agency hours need to be completed evenly throughout the semester with approximately 10 hour per week. Students who have not completed 40 percent of their agency hours by the 8th week of class are at risk for faculty initiated or forced withdrawal from the practicum. Other unusual circumstances may require a change in practicum placement and are at the discretion of the practicum instructor, the site supervisor, verification of site hours, and the student. The Practicum may be discontinued at any time if it is deemed learning agreement cannot or is not being honored or supported or the agency or student’s behavior is inappropriate.
Applications for practicum are due no later than 5 weeks prior to the beginning of term in which the practicum is to commence. Students will be notified in HSS 400 or in Human Social Services Club about practicum procedures.
Considerations for enrolling in Practicum I with accompanying placement include:
- Declaration of Human Social Services Major
- Junior or Senior in Good Academic Standing
- Successful completion of HSS 400 with a C or better
- Approval of Human Social Services Academic Advisor
The Practicum Application consists of reviewing/completing several documents. A background check; Consent to Release Information; Student Information relating to expectations, work experience, personal experiences, educational experiences, current areas of interest, and anticipated client populations, understanding the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) Ethical Standards and agreement to abide by the ethical standards in practicum placement; and endorsement of the student's HSS 400 instructor and Human Social Services Faculty Advisor (for Practicum I) and/or the Practicum I instructor for enrollment in Practicum II.
Completion of all identified requirements does not ensure admission to Practicum. The final decision to admit the student to practicum is based on professional judgment of the Human Social Services faculty. A student who disagrees with the faculty’s final decision is referred to the standard grievance procedure outlined in the college catalog. In some cases there will be more applicants than possible placements, in which there will be a wait list established. Waitlisted students will receive first priority for the next open placement. Students whose practicum applications are filed after the posted deadline will be placed on the waiting list. Students who submit completed applications on time and are closest to graduation have priority for placement.
Practicum placement is based upon an agreement between the chair of the Human Social Services Department, the student and the agency. While students are encouraged to identify an agency at which they are interested in being placed, all placements must be approved by the Department. The placement process commences with the completion of either the Practicum Application form (for Practicum I and II). The forms must be completed and submitted to the Department Chair by the published deadlines (5 weeks prior to the beginning of the term in which the student plans on enrolling in Practicum). Students whose forms are timely and complete – will be allowed to register for the appropriate practicum class following the completion of the placement process. Students whose forms are late or incomplete will be placed on the waiting list and will be allowed to register for the course sites become available.
It is the goal of the Human Social Services Department to have students placed at an agency with learning agreements completed no later than the 2nd week of classes. The Department Chair will supply all referrals and placements within 2 weeks after receiving all documentation. A confirmed placement means that the student has made an appointment and has interviewed at the referred agency and has returned the signed completed agency referral form. Any student without a confirmed placement cannot enroll in the Practicum.
Each Practicum student requires a written learning agreement signed by the student, the agency field supervisor, and the Practicum instructor. The learning agreement defines the student responsibilities, learning goals, supervision practices and activities. The formal (final) learning agreement must be completed no later than the 2nd week of class or the student is at risk for faculty initiated withdrawal.
Nepotism and Practicum Placement
The student's placement will not be made in an agency where an immediate family member is employed. Immediate family member is defined by spouse, child, stepchild, or adopted child, parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle or those related to a spouse previously listed. It also includes another person cohabitating with the student in a conjugal relationship that is not a legal marriage. In addition, the placement cannot be a site in which the student is or has been previously employed.
The Practicum Seminar
The required seminar provides a forum to continue mastery of key concepts, theories, and information related to the profession of Human Social Services. In addition, the seminar explores relationships and issues that arise in the application of human social service theory to professional practice this facilitating the integration of theory and practice. Time spent in seminar does not count toward required agency time. Attendance is mandatory.
Practicum evaluation consists of joint college/agency/student review of the student accomplishments of the course objectives in a written evaluation utilizing the required Human Services Evaluation Form and the assignment of the grade by the Practicum Instructor. Evaluation forms and course objectives are provided at the beginning of the course. Students also complete a learning agreement form related to the tasks and assignments the student undertakes to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes in professional Human Social Services. The fulfillment of the contract becomes, in part, the basis of the performance evaluation along with the student's overall professional behavior. Evaluations are retained by the Chair of the Human Social Services Department for 2 years after completion of the Practicum, after which they are shredded.
Professional Liability Insurance
Students in Practicum are covered for professional liability through a blanket college policy.
Scheduling, Vacations, School Breaks, and Absences
Student's practicum experiences are to be negotiated and arranges with the agency and agency supervisor. Practicum agencies are not requires to work around the college's academic calendar. The student should consider the agency and clients' needs when scheduling school breaks, vacations or absences. It is important to set a schedule that meets both the student's and the agency's needs at the beginning of the semester to avoid conflicts and possible misunderstandings. It may be necessary to work evening or weekend hours to maximize the learning opportunities for the student and also meet the needs of the practicum agency. Occasionally student hours may also extend beyond the required weekly hours in order to take advantage of learning opportunities. Students are required to maintain a significant presence in the practicum placement throughout the semester and to complete the total number of required hours. Students are also responsible for arranging practicum scheduling to accommodate attendance at required college classes and final exams.
If a student is ill or needs to be absent from the agency during scheduled practicum hours, it is the student's responsibility to notify the agency supervisor to assure that the agency staffing needs are met. If the absence is greater than 2 days, the practicum instructor should be notified. During the practicum, the student is responsible for keeping the agency supervisor and the practicum instructor appraised of up-to-date contact information so the student can be reached at the practicum and outside the practicum office.
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