Professional and Beyond Course Experiences

Professional and Beyond Course Experiences

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2656-9.ch010
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This chapter highlights professional experiences that are often encouraged and sometimes required by doctoral programs in education. Examples of such experiences are listed and illustrated in two categories: within course experiences and beyond course experiences. The requirements for professional experiences vary widely based on the specific goals of the doctoral program and the expectations within the communities of practice for which the candidates are being prepared.
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In-Course Professional Experiences

In some cases, the programs have found ways to encapsulate these experiences within courses. One example is the preliminary examination in the University of Wisconsin’s doctoral program in special education. This is a research project which is completed within a course called Internship Research. Another example is the Mentored Residency course at Carson-Newman University. Doctoral candidates in educational leadership must not only shadow someone in the job they are working towards, but also complete tasks that that person assigns and guides them through. In this way, they have at least a small set of experiences in the job for which they are preparing themselves.

More often than not, however, the list of potential experiences is too long or tasks too big to include within a course. In these cases, the experiences can either be suggested or required as a list of beyond-course experiences.

In the case of the Missouri program, this list is included in the Doctoral Student handbook. Before including it here, the reader needs to keep in mind that the Missouri Handbook already strongly urges the student to participate as a full-time student and encourages seeking an assistantship:

Many of the learning opportunities you will experience in the program come from experiences beyond coursework. You will be expected to accumulate a variety of professional experiences through assistantships, internships, and ad hoc work. Internships provide doctoral students with closely mentored, in-depth experiences designed to enhance knowledge and expertise related to college teaching, research, and teacher development. They serve as vehicles to connect coursework with the practical work of mathematics education faculty. Doctoral students typically complete at least one internship in each of the areas noted below. However, if a student’s graduate assistantship assignments provide equivalent experiences related to any of the following areas, that assistantship may be substituted for a transcripted internship at the discretion of the major advisor.

  • College Teaching - the student assists a faculty member in teaching a college level course for preservice or in-service teachers. The course may be a mathematics content or methods course.

  • Research – prior to the dissertation, the student engages in a research study, either a small-scale study he or she designs or as a team member of a study directed by a faculty member.

  • Teacher Development – the student works with a faculty member in planning, implementing and evaluating a single or series of professional development experiences for teachers.

Internships are transcripted courses (1 to 3 credit hours each registered under LTC 8941). Students are strongly encouraged to participate in a set of internships that span the K-16 environment. The faculty advisor and student will work together to tailor experiences to enhance the individual student’s background and career goals.

Identifying Internship Opportunities and Making Assignments Each spring a list of Internship opportunities for the following academic year is prepared by a committee of the faculty and shared with doctoral students. Students review the opportunities and consult with their major faculty advisor in order to determine the best course of action. If recommended by the major advisor, the student submits a request for consideration for one or more internship opportunities to the chair of the faculty internship committee. The Committee reviews all requests and makes recommendations to the mathematics education faculty for review and final approval.

Evaluation of the Internship is done as with any graduate course – the instructor of record (faculty mentor) articulates at the beginning of the experience expectations (generally with an Internship Contract). At the end of the experience, the faculty mentor evaluates student performance, assessing a letter grade.”

In this way, Missouri is attempting to capture these professional experiences in coursework whenever it is deemed appropriate and approved by the advisor.


Beyond-Course Professional Experiences

In many cases, however, the desired professional experiences needed to better prepare doctoral students for their potential careers cannot be encapsulated within the confines of a course structure. In this case, the doctoral program should still list the experiences and encourage students to seek these experiences. Programs that have research and teaching assistant positions find a way to formalize those experiences within a job rather than within a course.

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