Course:  Soc Wl 584

Timeline:  To be completed by the end of the second year. 

Credits: 3 Per Course

Time Commitment for Student:  Approximately 3 hours per week per credit hour.  An average of 8 -10 hours per week. 

Requirements: Summary paper and practicum evaluation form.  Must be submitted to the PhD Office via email to by the last day of the quarter Soc Wl 584 is completed.         

Grading Format: Credit/No Credit

Teaching Practicum

Many PhD students assume teaching or administrative positions in higher education after graduation, and teaching skills are important to virtually all leadership roles related to effective presentation, communication, supervision, evaluation, training, and mentoring activities. One component of the doctoral program's teaching preparation is this one-quarter educational practicum (typically undertaken in the second year) for the purpose of working closely with a faculty member to observe teaching methods and acquire hands-on teaching experience. Students often find that additional practica beyond the one-quarter requirement are helpful in preparing them for teaching roles.

Each spring, the PhD Program Director assists students in finding teaching practicum opportunities for the coming school year. Many students search out opportunities, which is acceptable as long as the Program Director approves the arrangement. The practicum mentor should have Graduate Faculty status. However, in some cases students have learning opportunities with experienced teachers who are not Graduate Faculty; in such cases a member of the SSW Social Welfare Faculty could serve as the faculty of record for registration. This requires approval of the PhD Program Director.

Practicum Goals

The primary goal of the teaching practicum is to provide students with teaching experience within a classroom setting. The students receive instruction and feedback from faculty supervisors who are responsible for the courses in which the practica take place. Students’ practica will vary in the extent to which emphasis is placed on instructional time, course development (e.g., preparation of syllabus, assignments, and bibliography), assignment grading, and other curriculum review and planning issues and tasks.

Practicum Objectives

Several areas of learning are important for students preparing to teach social work content. In planning the teaching practicum, the student and faculty mentor should identify several specific skills for development over the course of the quarter.  The skills focused on in a specific Teaching Practicum should be derived from the Guidelines for Research and Teaching Competencies and the Social Justice Learning Objectives.

The following aspects of teaching are important for all students and thus reflect common objectives for all practica:

  1. Understanding the educational goals of the course and the relation of the course goals to the practicum goals.
  2. Understanding the relation of the course goals to specific content areas included in the course and the process of selection of assigned reading materials.
  3. Understanding the relation between the course goals, content, and the instructional methods chosen.
  4. Understanding the relation between course goals, content, teaching, and the formulation of student evaluation methods and criteria.
  5. Understanding the conceptualization and execution of the course syllabus, including specifics of the course outline. The student should get firsthand experience in developing course requirements and policies.
  6. Preparing class sessions for the planned course. Class preparation might include discussion of the specific objectives of the class session, selection of assigned readings, teaching aids, and issues of classroom delivery.
  7. Acquiring classroom manegement skills including how to deliver content, lead a discussion, handle questions and answers and obtain feedback from students regarding the class process.  

Overall Practicum Goals

  • In general, students should consider practicum placements in courses that will be most valuable to them if they enter the academic job market (e.g., HBSE, policy, practice methods, research). However, other factors such as teaching style may influence which courses or supervisors a student seeks out.  
  • Typically, the course should be at master's or undergraduate level, not one in which other doctoral students are registered.
  • Students and faculty supervisors should arrange the practicum well in advance of the quarter in which the practicum course takes place so that the student can be involved in syllabus development and other course preparation tasks.
  • Faculty preceptors and students meet weekly. Supervision time should be directed to fulfilling the specific expectations for the teaching practicum as outlined in the Registration Form as well as to addressing ongoing issues associated with the class. Faculty preceptors need to provide ongoing feedback to students regarding their progress toward meeting the goals of the teaching practicum. 
  • A Teaching Assistantship (TA) may not be substituted for the teaching practicum nor can the two be combined in the same course in the same quarter. The roles and expectations of a doctoral student who is employed to provide faculty support as a teaching assistant are different from (and sometimes in tension with) the roles and expectations of a student engaged in a practicum. This requirement may be waived by petition to the Program Director when a clear case can be documented that neither the pedagogical goals of the practicum nor the class support needs of the assistantship would be compromised and that the student’s previous teaching experience warrants combining the roles.

Registration Form: The Learning Contract

Registration for the practicum ((Soc Wl 584) involves meeting with the faculty mentor to prepare the Registration Form found in the SSW STAR system. The form serves as the course contract and syllabus, and typically includes the days and hours the student will devote to the practicum, skills to be mastered, tasks to be performed, and training to be supplied by the preceptor. The Registration Form must include a minimum of three learning objectives, which should in general link to the Guidelines for Teaching Competencies, and at least one of which must clearly reflect the Social Justice Learning Objectives. The form must be prepared by the student and approved by the faculty supervisor in the SSW STAR system.  After the form is approved by the faculty supervisor, the form is reviewed and approved/denied by the PhD Program Director.  Students are asked to submit forms at least 2 weeks before the start of the quarter in which the practicum takes placeThe Director must approve the form before the student can register for the course.

Student Responsibilities

The student is expected to devote an average of 8 to 10 hours per week to the practicum. These hours cover various aspects in the teaching palate (e.g., class preparation, classroom time, office hours, assignment review/grading, and meeting with the faculty supervisor). In all instances, such activities should be in service to the student’s learning of key aspects of the teaching role, not as a substitute for the faculty member.

The Summary Report: In the Summary Report, students should reflect, in a holistic fashion, about how fully they have attained their learning objectives including what strengths as well as challenges they see in their current teaching practice. Next steps for on-going teaching preparation should be considered in the report as well. The report should specifically address the topics listed in the Registration Form, such as syllabus development, student evaluation, teaching activities (e.g., lectures, discussions, exercises), and feedback shared between the student and practicum instructor regarding areas of strength and those for suggested improvement.
A copy of the Summary Report must be forwarded to the PhD Program Director at the end of the teaching practicum quarter and uploaded to the student's Catalyst site.

Students are expected to develop a teaching portfolio while in the PhD program, and materials from the practicum are typically excellent additions to this portfolio.
(See Portfolio section of the manual for info on how to beginning building Portfolios.) 

Faculty Responsibilities

The practicum is based upon a mentorship model. The configuration of experience and therefore of supervisory responsibility will be negotiated between the student and instructor, elucidated in the Registration Form, and approved by the PhD Program Director.

The faculty member supervising the teaching practicum shall furnish a letter of reference for the student’s career portfolio that summarizes the teaching skills and competencies they developed during the teaching practicum.

Practicum Evaluation

At the end of the practicum, the student and mentor should meet together to evaluate the practicum experience. The student fills out an evaluation of the practicum and submits it to the Program Director.

Teaching Practicum Policy Statement