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Integrated Learning: Developing a Thematic Course and Internship Program in Washington DC
Unformatted Document Text:  connections to practitioners and specialists in Washington DC is an obvious resource that programs can use as well. With the use of resources like these, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we were able to put together the first semester’s seminar and settle students into internships whose responsibilities were within the scope of the semester’s theme. There was an additional benefit to emphasizing the important experiential learning of the internship to our academic theme. Not only did this emphasis ensure that students would have experiences that were topically relevant, but employers also seemed to become vested in the idea that the internships would provide our students with experiences that would be thoughtfully connected to our coursework. One of the factors that enhanced this sense of responsibility was an agreement between the internship supervisor and our student that they would work together to ensure relevant experiences. This did not mean, of course, that students were able to completely avoid photo-copying and filing. However, if the balance between those activities and substantive work became too one-sided, our students felt more comfortable in approaching their supervisors to ask for the substantive work they desired. And, if they did not approach their supervisors on their own, the program director and I then encouraged them to do so. It is worth noting that out of 18 internships during the fall 2006 semester the need for such a request occurred in only three cases. I was initially skeptical about the degree to which the internships’ integration in the semester’s theme would really affect course discussions. Ensuring that student internships would provide an opportunity to work on topics associated with our classroom discussions was crucial to the success of a thematic endeavor like ours and it 16

Authors: Nemacheck, Christine.
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connections to practitioners and specialists in Washington DC is an obvious resource that
programs can use as well. With the use of resources like these, I was pleasantly surprised
at how quickly we were able to put together the first semester’s seminar and settle
students into internships whose responsibilities were within the scope of the semester’s
theme.
There was an additional benefit to emphasizing the important experiential
learning of the internship to our academic theme. Not only did this emphasis ensure that
students would have experiences that were topically relevant, but employers also seemed
to become vested in the idea that the internships would provide our students with
experiences that would be thoughtfully connected to our coursework. One of the factors
that enhanced this sense of responsibility was an agreement between the internship
supervisor and our student that they would work together to ensure relevant experiences.
This did not mean, of course, that students were able to completely avoid photo-copying
and filing. However, if the balance between those activities and substantive work
became too one-sided, our students felt more comfortable in approaching their
supervisors to ask for the substantive work they desired. And, if they did not approach
their supervisors on their own, the program director and I then encouraged them to do so.
It is worth noting that out of 18 internships during the fall 2006 semester the need for
such a request occurred in only three cases.
I was initially skeptical about the degree to which the internships’ integration in
the semester’s theme would really affect course discussions. Ensuring that student
internships would provide an opportunity to work on topics associated with our
classroom discussions was crucial to the success of a thematic endeavor like ours and it
16


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