Public Service Practicum

January 29, 2001

It is imperative that each CA attends every Tuesday class and arrives by 2:30 P.M. If you are unable to attend a class, please contact Rick or Dana via phone or e-mail as early as possible.

Course Overview:
The second semester of Practicum is designed to continue serving as a resource for you, individually and collectively, as you become deeply embedded in your community-based organization and as you assist students serving with that organization with their own learning. This semester the focus will be upon Public Problem Solving (PPS), particularly the concepts and skills associated with PPS. The Practicum will challenge C.A.s to become Public Problem Solving agents as you: 1) build stronger relationships between the Feinstein Institute/Providence College and your community-based sites; and 2) serve as a resource to student learning, designing appropriate service activities for students and acting as a liaison between service-learning courses and the community-based organizations that operate as service sites in these courses. Becoming a successful Public Problem Solver in the context of the CA role is a series of challenges; the Practicum will support you as you rise to the particular challenges involved.

The class will be conducted as a seminar. Therefore, it is imperative that CAs come to class prepared to discuss reading and other assignments and class themes. Throughout the entire semester, we will be setting aside time to bring into the Practicum your experiences/challenges working with your service sites and students.

Organizational "Action Research": Stakeholder Analysis and Issue Research
We will be following up the organizational research you've already done with what we are calling a Stakeholder Analysis project. This will consist of an identification of the major stakeholders of your organization as it relates to the Feinstein Institute/Providence College, the selection of a few representatives from the stakeholder groups, one-on-one interviews with these representatives, and an analysis of the critical questions and issues based on these interviews. After some initial exercises in Practicum designed to provide training in the techniques necessary to do the project, students will draft interview questions and begin interviewing (immediately following Spring Break). Out of these interviews you will identify the problems/issues that your organization confronts that those of us at the Institute who relate to it must be aware of, and begin to flesh out these issues through preliminary research. You should finish the analysis by the middle of April. This project will be one of the contributions to the Community Room Binder, a legacy to future C.A.s and students.

Critical Reflection/Feedback:
Reflection/Feedback is widely recognized to be a critical component to service-learning; it will be incorporated into the Practicum course this spring in four ways: 1) 10 minutes of journal writing at the beginning of each class session, prompted by questions related to the reading assignment for the week; 2) Individual reflection on a biweekly basis with a feedback partner (as assigned February 9) about the successes and challenges of your CA work; 3) biweekly writeups of your partner's work/challenges and written feedback for other C.A.s on the alternating weeks that you don't meet with your partner; and 4) ongoing reflection/incorporation of feedback you receive from both the staff at your site and the students who serve there as part of their coursework. In addition to these forms of reflection, reflection on the process of analyzing the stakeholder groups and interviewing will be incorporated into class discussions.

Grant Implementation and Report:
During the spring each of you who has received a site grant will work to implement the grant and record progress and outcomes in a formal grant report. The format of the grant report will be discussed in class and guidelines will be presented.

C.O.O.L. Conference:
You have the opportunity to attend the fifteenth annual Campus Outreach Opportunity League (C.O.O.L.) National Conference on Student Community Service on March 18th-21st in Salt Lake City, Utah. In groups of 1-4, CAs are expected to submit workshop proposals by February 1, 1999. Our hope is that each group will have the opportunity to present their workshop at the conference to a national audience of college students, faculty, and college administrators. By preparing for, attending, and presenting workshops at the COOL Conference, several important things will be accomplished:

* work closely with a small group of CAs
* group around individual interests related to site work
* apply skills in development and presentation of workshop (facilitation, leadership of peers, negotiation, public speaking, etc.)
* provide support while offering critical, thoughtful feedback to one another
* fund-raise (if necessary) and travel as a group

Each group will be "coached" through the workshop development process by Rick and Dana and will meet together to discuss progress two times before the conference. Class time will also be set aside (see Course Outline) to share COOL workshops with one another.

In lieu of conferences, each CA feedback partner group will meet with either Rick or Dana every other week. If you need to meet individually with Rick and Dana during the semester we can schedule this separately as needed.

As with the Fall Semester, your evaluation will be based upon our mutual evaluation of your learning and work over the semester, as evidenced by the materials you include in a Practicum Portfolio. Evaluation will be broken down into six or seven equal parts (depending upon whether you have a grant): 1) COOL; 2) Stakeholder Analysis and Issue Research; 3) Critical Writing (feedback); 4) Grant Implementation & Report; and 5) Incorporation of "Feedback" (community partner, students, faculty); 6) Class Participation; and 7) Community Room Binder, Time Log, and quality of Portfolio presentation.

School: Providence College
Professor: Rick Battistoni , Dana Farrell
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