Aubrey Perry on Ensuring a Positive Practica Experience

Hello colleagues! My name is Aubrey W. Perry, a graduate student in the Community Psychology doctorate program at Portland State University. I have had the privilege of working on two evaluation practicum projects before completing my master’s requirements. Through the completion of these projects, I have learned several actions that can be taken to ensure a positive experience.

Hot Tip: When entering into a practical experience relationship as a student or agency representative, it is helpful to remember the following guidelines:

1. Define Your Roles and Tasks: Every practicum, internship, or externship is different based on the students, agencies, and projects involved. It is important to consider what role each of these will play throughout the course of the experience.

a. Who will manage the student and their activities? In most cases, the student is under the supervision of their academic advisor and a point person at the agency. The student should work to make sure all parties know the feedback and supervisory structure at the onset of a project.

b. Is the project meeting an established need for the organization? A project that the agency is highly interested in will make it easier to find time to supervise the student and project while motivating the student to stay involved, as they will feel their work is valued.


2. Discuss Potentially Touchy Subjects at the Beginning of the Practica: Publication and presentation authorship is often a goal for evaluation professionals. Students and agency representatives should consider this at the onset by asking these questions.

a. What is the end product for this project expected to be? Is there going to be a research report, presentation, or peer-reviewed article that may require authorship guidelines?

b. What are the authorship policies of the agency or organization providing the practical experience? Are there any discrepancies between the student’s wishes and the agency’s policies?


3. Keep the Channels of Communication Open: Both the student and the supervisor should take it upon themselves to make sure both parties are staying in constant contact throughout the project. Examples of ways keep communication at the forefront are listed below:

a. Begin the project with a contract. Before the project even starts, the student, academic supervisor, and agency supervisor should draft a document detailing the length, tasks, and structure of the project.

b. Stay involved through email, phone conversations, or meetings. Discuss how often the student and the agency should communicate by creating a meeting schedule that best meets the demands of the project and the parties involved.

Rad Resource: Many career services offices and academic departments at universities maintain a repository of sample contracts, project outlines, and products that you may find useful.

This contribution is from the aea365 Tip-a-Day Alerts, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to Want to learn more from Aubrey? He’ll be presenting as part of the Evaluation 2010 Conference Program, November 10-13 in San Antonio, Texas.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.