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Teaching Practicum


Background on our Bucks
County
Community College
Practicum Program

 

One of the most difficult problems facing colleges today is developing faculty in order to maintain a high standard of teaching in light of burgeoning enrollments, funding difficulties, decreasing tenure-track positions, an increasing need for part-time faculty, and crisis-staffing of composition courses.  At the same time, one of the most difficult problems facing M.A. students is that at institutions like The College of New Jersey, where the Master’s degree is the terminal degree, students who wish to teach at the college level graduate graduate with no experience in the classroom. One approach that addresses both of these problems is a Practicum program which utilizes M.A. students to teach Composition courses. The program provides a mutual benefit for both parties: BCCC gains appropriately-trained faculty for a wide range of courses by providing MA students with a mentored professional experience; TCNJ provides M.A.’s with independent study credit in Composition theory and teaching experience.

 

The Program

Interviewing:
BCCC interviews all candidates for the Practicum program to discuss qualifications and future goals.

The Texts:
Composition Reader
– Composition Handbook
– Several texts on Composition theory and practice

Introductory Practicum Workshop:
The Practicum students from TCNJ meet with Bucks County faculty and staff prior to the start of the semester to discuss teaching methods and to develop course formats and syllabi.  As functional members of the part-time faculty, practicum students also attend faculty in-service the day before the semester begins.

Constructing the Format and Syllabus:
The Practicum students are given sample materials for reference and are responsible for creating a course format and syllabus that will be reviewed prior to the start of the semester by faculty at BCCC as well as by the TCNJ Practicum advisor.

Practicum Requirements:
Along with the routine duties of instructing a Composition course, the Practicum students are responsible for the following:

Assigned Readings:
Practicum students are responsible for completing multiple readings in Composition theory and practice that cover a variety of topics including approaches to composition, assessment, effective teaching, and academic labor.

Assigned Journal Entries:
Journal entries are a source reflection and a chance for the students to apply the ideas and theories in the readings to the Composition class they are teaching. Faculty will assign specific journal topics that focus on the Practicum students’ current experiences in their Composition course and on how those experiences to the required readings.  As a result, the students will consistently reflect on their classroom experiences in light of current composition theory and practice.

Weekly Meetings:
One of the most beneficial aspects of the program is the required weekly meeting between BCCC faculty and the Practicum students.  During this time, students present faculty with proposed classroom activities and writing assignment prior to presenting them to their Composition classes.  These meetings are beneficial to each the students because they provide continuity over the courses of the semester and because of the Practicum students are able to utilize this time to discuss their classroom experiences and any concerns they have creating assignments, managing the classroom, and/or offering feedback and assessment of student writing.

Review of Graded Student Essays:
Over the course of the semester, faculty will review three sets of graded essays from the Practicum students’ Composition classes in order to help explain the process of grading and BCCC’s standard for grading.

Classroom Observations & Criteria for Grading:
On a scheduled day toward the end of the semester, the Practicum students invite BCCC faculty to observe one of their classes.  During this class, faculty observes the instructors and responds to the following grading criteria:

  • Quality of the classroom activities
  • Comfort level of students
  • How discussion is generated
  • How controversial issues are dealt with
  • How well students respond and how well they understand the material

The overall grading for the Practicum is determined by both BCCC and TCNJ based on the following criteria:

  • Application of theoretical issues: readings
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Reflection: journal entries
  • Preparation: lessons plans, syllabi, course formats
  • Assessment of student  work – grading
  • Weekly meetings
  • Classroom observation

 

BCCC Requirements:

  • Regular, scheduled, and frequent meetings with BCCC Department Chair and/or TCNJ graduate faculty supervisor
  • Classroom visit(s) by BCCC Composition Coordinator
  • Submission and approval of format, syllabus, and assignments in advance
  • Journal – weekly entries concerning assigned readings, teaching issues, classroom experiences submitted over the course of the semester to the Composition Coordinator
  • Submission of a first, midterm, and final set of graded papers
  • Required readings from sources including The Writing Teacher’s Sourcebook, The Allyn and Bacon Teaching Assistant’s Handbook, and the St. Martin’s Guide to Teaching Writing (provided by the Composition Coordinator)
  • Participation in the Department, including monthly meeting and committees
  • Written report by BCCC Writing Program Administrator for each Practicum student sent to TCNJ

 

TCNJ Requirements:

  • Registration in a three-credit independent study (ENGL 697) under the supervision of a TCNJ graduate faculty member*
  • Regular, scheduled, and frequent meetings with the supervising TCNJ graduate faculty member
  • Classroom visit by the supervising TCNJ graduate faculty member
  • Journal and portfolio submissions as required by the supervising TCNJ graduate faculty member and Graduate Coordinator

 

Deadlines:

to apply for Fall 2018 Placement  March 1st, 2017

* This course counts as an elective toward the fulfillment of your degree requirements and is considered part of your load during any given semester.  Please plan accordingly.  It is not advised to take the practicum in addition to a full-time load of three courses.

Please send all completed application materials to Sharon Estes (Practicum Coordinator and Instructor, Language & Literature)  at sharon.estes@bucks.edu or Penn Hall 135, 275 Swamp Road, Newtown, PA, 18940.

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