PSYCH 495 Three-Credit Internship for [Student X] (Semester YEAR)
Brad Pinter, Ph.D.
129 A Smith Building
Course Description: PSYCH 495 is a hybrid academic/professional experience in which students develop a narrowly conceived research focus and integrate it with practical skills/experiences gained in a non-academic setting. Unlike other work experiences sharing the name, the PSYCH 495 internship focuses on the critical synthesis of academic material and practical experience.
Responsibilities: Students will have on-site responsibilities, which will be determined in consultation with the site supervisor, and academic responsibilities, which will begin with identifying a suitably narrow area of academic interest related to the practical experience. Students will use the narrow focus to identify and properly summarize empirical journal articles, later integrate those summaries into a research synthesis, and lastly, present their work at the end of the semester. A more complete description of these activities, as well as the means of evaluation, is presented below.
Course Goals: By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate several skills or abilities developed during the on-site training. (Student will identify these in consultation with the site supervisor. Selection of internship site should be determined by the fit between students’ goals and site offerings.)
- Describe the current state of knowledge on one specific topic related to the practical experience.
- Critically relate primary research findings to practical experience.
Journal summaries: Type-written summaries of journal articles will be required. Appropriate articles are approximately 5-15 pages in length and report one or more studies that use experimental or correlational methods. Note that this definition typically excludes book chapters, dissertations, theses, book reviews, blog posts, Psychology Today articles, and popular press columns. Identification and selection of articles should be made with the assistance of the faculty sponsor. It is acceptable to develop the reading list during the semester of the internship. An evolving reading list may occur when a student has narrowed their area of focus through more general exploration in the initial weeks.
Each summary should be approximately one, single-spaced page in length and should be accompanied by a .pdf copy of the journal article. Each summary should include the following: (1) an APA-style consistent reference, (2) a hypothesis/goal section that describes what the researchers predicted and/or were attempting to do, (3) a methods section that summarizes the choice of variables and study procedures, (4) a results section that provides the main findings, and (5) a critique/application section that evaluates the contribution of the work relative to its limitations and attempts to connect the work to internship site experiences. Note: It may be useful for students to keep a journal of their on-site experiences to facilitate this last, valuable point.
Students should identify a specific concentration area for the journal articles that will provide for a suitably narrow research synthesis. For a 6-credit internship at least 20 peer-reviewed journal articles are required and for a 3-credit internship at least 10 peer-reviewed journal articles are required.
Due: 1 or 2 per week by email during the first 50% of the internship | Relative weight: 30%
Synthesis paper: A research synthesis paper is required that integrates knowledge gained through the article summaries with observations from site work. To properly integrate the articles, students must decide on an organizational scheme and then use subsection headers to organize the material. In addition, students are required to incorporate at least three specific examples from their site work that illustrate aspects of the review. The paper should adhere to APA format and be approximately 10-12 pages in length (6-credit) or 6-8 pages in length (3-credit). It is possible that some of the journal summaries may not be incorporated into the synthesis, but students should attempt to integrate as many as possible. It is good practice to submit two preliminary drafts to the faculty sponsor for comment: the first that clarifies the subsections of the paper before significant writing has begun and the second that shows not more than 50% progress on the paper. The faculty sponsor will provide elaborate feedback at each stage.
Due: last day of the internship | Relative weight: 30%
Student evaluations (preliminary, mid-term, and final evaluation): Students will be prompted at three points during the semester to provide evaluations of their experiences. Note that significant problems should be discussed immediately with the faculty sponsor.
Relative weight: 10%
Meetings with the faculty sponsor: The student will have weekly contact with the faculty sponsor throughout the duration of the internship to discuss student progress.
Relative weight: 10%
Capstone Presentation: Students will present their research synthesis at an end of semester capstone presentation session. Students will give an oral presentation (preferably complemented by PowerPoint) than lasts not longer than 15 minutes. Following the presentation, 5 minutes will be allotted for questions. The presentation timing will be strictly enforced, so students are strongly advised to practice the talk to focus on the most significant content given the available time. A moderator will periodically alert students of the remaining time.
The manor of presentation is important. Professional dress is expected. Students should attempt to effectively use PowerPoint to complement and enhance their oral remarks. This could mean displaying tables or figures from a research paper, examples of psychological assessments, or pictures of equipment or internship sites. Students should avoid placing large chunks of text on slides and then simply reading the information. It is advisable for students to solicit feedback from the faculty sponsor on a draft version of the presentation.
The presentation should focus on 3 key areas:
- Description of the internship. Briefly detail the site name and location, the nature of the clients and work done there, and your responsibilities. Do not allocate more than 1 minute for this information.
- Review of literature. Present selected highlights of your research synthesis, along with illustrative examples from your site experience. The goal is to critically relate the literature to practice and practice to the literature. Where do they meet and miss? Plan to allocate 10 minutes to this portion of the talk.
- Insight. Discuss two professional (not personal) challenges you encountered or observed over the course of your internship: one relating to a client population or to treatment issues; the other to the organizational, social, or political/policy environment. Drawing explicitly on your review of the professional literature, how would you recommend that your host organization address these issues? Why? Plan to allocate 4 minutes for this portion of the talk.
Relative weight: 20%