Students will complete one practicum, consisting of enrollment in SAA 775 and completion of at least 70 hours of supervised practice in an area different than the one in which they hold their primary work experience, graduate assistantship, or graduate student internship.  The course credit is graded on a pass/fail basis, based primarily on the site supervisor's recommendation, but also on the student's recording of hours / key learning moments and final evaluation.

The practicum allows students to deepen their experience, perhaps working at/with different institutional types or professional organizations. The experience should be "distinctly different" than one's primary field experience, and ideally work to fill in gaps in one's experience, knowledge, and skills. Students should talk with their faculty advisors about their options, and a practicum event is typically held each spring to answer students' questions. 

While most practicum experiences are unpaid, students can pursue paid opportunities, such as ACUHO-I (housing) or NODA (orientation) summer internships. Experiences can only be unpaid, according to labor laws, if the student is getting more out of the experience than the employer is. Thus, if the employer benefits from your labor / expertise but you're not learning anything new, you shouldn't be doing it as a practicum and they should be compensating you for that labor. We encourage all supervisors to compensate students for practica if the site is benefitting from the student's presence. 

Students who work full-time may be concerned about their ability to complete this requirement, and those with substantive full-time experience (two years) in two different areas can apply to substitute a third special topics course in lieu of the practicum (see substitution form below).  The practicum doesn’t have to be a one-day a week in another office.  It could be for working on a campus-wide committee or serving a professional organization, or even supporting the SAA department.

Students must enroll in SAA 775 for the term in which their hours will be completed. All sections are online and represent the location of the practicum:  -501 for a practicum at UW-L, -502 for a practicum elsewhere in Wisconsin; and -503 for a practicum in other states/countries OR remotely worked. Sections -504 and -505 are for the rare situations in which one needs additional practicum credit. 

The vast majority of students will complete two special topics courses and one practicum credit the fall of their second year. Some fully online students may move the practicum to the summer of their second year instead, but only if they do not need to be enrolled in 6 credits in the fall in order to continue undergraduate loan repayment deferrals or maintain health insurance or other benefits. 

Once enrolled, the instructor will communicate expectations for learning contracts, hours/learning logs, and evaluations.  

Questions and notes for consideration are below:

What is the office / institution / organization at which you will be completing your practicum? 

The goal of the practicum is to provide you with a "distinctly different" experience than what you already do in your primary work position...whether that is a full-time position or a graduate assistant/intern role. Consider exploring different functional areas perhaps at different institutions if that is possible in your region.  

Who is supervising your experience? Please share their name, email, phone number.

Supervisors should be “appropriately qualified,” which generally means having at least a master’s degree (ideally in student affairs, higher education, or a related discipline) and one or more years of relevant professional experience.  

What are the start/end dates and anticipated hours of the practicum? 

Start/end dates should fall within the dates of the term students are enrolled in the credit, though it is acceptable to complete up to 10% of hours prior to the start of the semester. Each single credit represents 70 hours of experience.

What are your top learning objectives?  (provide 1-3 short statements, grounded in ACPA/NASPA competencies)

A primary goal of the practicum is to give students direct, hands-on experience in a distinctly different area. Learning objectives should describe the particular competencies students aim to develop. An example might be: "Develop the Advising & Supporting foundational skill of facilitating individual decision-making and goal-setting." 

What duties, tasks, or projects will you work on to achieve those learning objectives?  

Be as specific as possible. Rather than just writing “Advising students” as the task, you might write, “After shadowing an advisor for X weeks, the student will spend X hours per week providing 1:1 or group advising to students in X majors.”

How do you expect to track your progress on completing tasks and achieving learning outcomes? How will students know if they are meeting expectations, and how will supervisors know if students are achieving learning outcomes?

We expect that practicum students meet with their supervisors at least every other week to discuss their progress, surface any concerns, and give/receive feedback. We will not collect logs to track hours, but trust students and supervisors to collaborate to ensure the hours requirement is met. An example response here might be, "We will meet weekly to discuss performance, and the student will ask their supervisor for feedback on their Advising/Supporting ePortfolio reflection."

Students learning contracts will first be reviewed by the course instructor, then sent to site supervisors for approval. Near the end of the practicum, students will be asked to complete a self-evaluation of their learning experience. That evaluation will be shared with supervisors, who are invited to provide additional feedback and recommend a grade (pass/fail).  Supervisor feedback is shared back with students before grades are submitted.

  • If you would like to host a practicum student, please contact us at saa@uwlax.edu
  • If you are a current student with additional questions, please contact your faculty advisor. 
  • If you are a prospective student with additional questions, please contact our M.S.Ed. Program Director, Tori Svoboda, at tsvoboda@uwlax.edu 

Forms

  • SAA Practicum Substitution Form (to be completed by student, signed by faculty advisor, and submitted to program director for approval - allows those with significant experience in the field to substitute a special topics course for their practicum)
  • SAA Practicum sample forms (the instructor of 775 may edit these in any given term, so students should wait until their "class" opens before completing any paperwork. Samples are provided just to give students and supervisors a sense of what may be asked/expected).