Using a Practicum – How to Implement a Program
How to Work a Program
This is Section Three of a four-part HubMob Education weekly topic article about the practicum in higher education. The four parts include:
- What Is a Practicum? – How to Compile the Background
- Creating a Practicum – How to Develop a Program
- Using a Practicum – How to Implement a Program
- Evaluating a Practicum - How to Determine Its Effectiveness
In this section, the Action Plan was to be placed into motion and continued for 6 weeks, or longer if needed, through meetings, supervision, and instructions delivered on a daily and weekly basis by a mentor to the student practitioner. The implementation was to be accomplished through meetings, student work according to instructions and hi/her own suggestions, and follow-up.
The entire practicum project was such that it could be repeated by other student practioners to enhance and enlarge the project on a semester or quarterly basis. Further, the project and its model could prove useful to any state in the USA.
Challenges In Performing a Practicum
© Copright 2005, 2013.
This is a mock up of one scenario that might occur during the implementation phase of this and similar Practicum Proposal. Some items are taken from personal experiences.
There were a number of challenges connected with the performance of this Practicum for facilitating the reentry of ex-offenders into Illinois society; specifically, Chicago. One of the biggest challenges was the unexpected, outsized amount of unsupervised work time required. The practitioner needed to follow action plan instructions received in weekly mentoring sessions and perform field work in the community, which required far beyond the 5 hours per week of the original estimate.
This assignment involved networking with quite a number of established providers of vital services that ex-offenders need in order to successfully transition into a productive life outside of related penal systems. Facilitating such reentry is fraught with difficulties and can seem an insurmountable task in itself. In addition to this intensive networking to obtain cooperation among providers to (AGENCY), there was also the task of pinning down the exact nature and extent of partnership among providers clearly and succinctly on paper. This required Memoranda of Agreement (non-financial agreements), which proved a challenging and almost daunting assignment in its size and scope.
Specific challenges faced by the practitioner in this assignment of
- Fostering a network of ex-offender related CBOs and services in partnership with (AGENCY), and
- Documenting these CBO partnership activities, along with services in a Reentry Service Directory targeting the reentry populations of Illinois include the following:
Important Steps In Partnerships for Practica
1) Logistical problems in reaching, scheduling, and completing appointments with the 1st- and 2nd-tier leadership of the CBOs approached for partnerships.
- Often, presidents and executive directors; as well as leadership in the next tier of vice presidents and assistant directors were unreachable.
- Administrative assistants and middle managers were the individuals most likely to be available for appointments, but had tight schedules.
- Some appointments had to be rescheduled, because the particular CBO representative had a change of schedule or an addition of duties that precluded the original appointment.
- Some CBO representatives were not able to meet at all, or cancelled appointments; requesting written information that had to be composed and mailed or emailed.
- Some CBO's had gone out of business or had moved.
2) Ineffective meetings.
- Some meetings felt rushed because the particular CBO representative was on a tight schedule or not overly interested in the networking proposal.
- Some CBO representatives had a preconceived notion that (AGENCY) was approaching them for funding. Others thought that perhaps they could receive funding. However, a few offered to collaborate with (AGENCY) to write grants for future shared funding.
- Some CBO representatives felt that collaborating with (agency) was actually a duplication of services or a request that would spread their resources too thinly. Some of this resistance could be a "turf battle" and rivalry, but this is an uncertain conclusion.
- Some CBO representatives completed their interview with the practitioner and declined the networking request as not viable.
- Some CBO representatives did not wish to use a Memorandum of Understanding and did not care to be listed in a Reentry Service Directory of partnerships with (AGENCY).
- Because of reduced funding and high staff turnover, some CBOs were working at full capacity and/or short-staffed, and could not offer a partnership or even accept any new clients (ex-offenders).
- Some CBO representatives did not wish to participate in this specific bridge of cooperation, because it contained certain other CBOs with political differences.
3) Difficulty having Memoranda of Understanding prepared and signed.
- Preparing the MOU's was a learning experience that took considerable time.
- Some CBO representatives would not sign the MOU's when they were delivered
- Some CBO representatives asked for 1-2 changes that added hours of work and transportation time to this Practicum.
4) Difficulty establishing a point person at each CBO for the Bridge of Cooperation.
- Many CBO's wanted to partner with (AGENCY), but felt that they had inadequate staff numbers to warrant designating a specific point person.
- In a few cases, after the point of contact person was named and agreed to serve, that person accepted employment with another organization, some of them out-of-state.
- One point of contact person died in a traffic accident soon after the MOU was executed.
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My sense was from the outset that such an undertaking as this practicum experience would require at least a full year of work by a series of students, rather than 6 weeks by a single individual. It would also benefit from ongoing work, providing practicum students a project for several years into the future. Several smaller projects have been undertaken in Illinois and in other US States, with positive results in linking community agencies into a service directories.
Some smaller, yet similar, projects written by academic professionals and students around the nation have led to topics and projects that have been completed as the Dissertations of PhD students, much to the benefit of communities participating as well as to the students and schools.
Read the next section for a mock up of results and the methods for us in evaluating a practicum program and experience at Evaluating a Practicum - How to Determine Its Effectiveness.
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