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Wednesday, June 22 • 16:45 - 18:00
POSTER.04 - Engaging Communities and Empowering Learners: An Assessment of Internship Programs in Critical Liberal Arts Curriculum

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Experiential learning opportunities through internship programs are increasingly part of university student experiences. This poster presents a faculty, community and student assessment of a newly developed internship program in criminology and addictions at the University of Saskatchewan. Addressing the conference themes of ‘learner motivation’ and ‘community and global engagement’, we discuss student, community and faculty perceptions of program successes as an educational and career readiness tool, with concerns relative to its placement in wider liberal arts education.

Current research about criminal justice internships have stressed the benefits related to academic development, buttressing classroom learning, personal growth, career readiness, professional skills, and networking (Murphy, Merrittt and Gibbons, 2013; Hiller, Salvatore and Taniguchi, 2014); showing positive appraisals from students and community supervisors (George, Lim, Lucas and Meadows, 2015). Studies of curriculum have also demonstrated students’ positive assessment of coursework in criminology and criminal justice to prepare them for real world internships (Ross and Elechi, 2006). Less addressed are student, community and faculty perceptions of the importance of these internships within a liberal arts curriculum.

Preliminary findings put forward pedagogical and career related benefits of internships and verify student perceptions that undergraduate coursework prepares them for fieldwork. We identify differences, however, across universities in academic coursework and perceptions of the fit between liberal arts education and internship learning. On the one hand internships are viewed as preparing students more for specific jobs (e.g. correctional workers) and are of less value to teaching competencies for the liberal arts (e.g. critical thinking and effective citizenship). On the other hand, internships are said to support students to become critical, creative and reflective about the society that they live. Following recommendations about best practice, we put forward a pedagogical approach that allows students to situate their internships in critical dialogues supported through writing assignments and classroom-based learning.


Carolyn Brooks

Carolyn Brooks is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Saskatchewan. Her research and publications focus on youth resilience, the politics of punishment, violence, and visual and community based participatory research methods.

Wednesday June 22, 2016 16:45 - 18:00 EDT
Atrium, Physics & Astronomy Building Western University

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