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Integrated Learning: Developing a Thematic Course and Internship Program in Washington DC
Unformatted Document Text:  was the variable over which I, as the instructor, had the least control. As the examples above indicate, I need not have worried. The formula worked well and greatly enhanced the students’ experiences on both the experiential and academic sides of the program. Another resource that is essential for an integrated, thematic program is flexibility. In a program where course material and students’ internship experiences overlap it is quite likely that some topics on which students have had more exposure are going to require further attention in class, and other topics may get less. Unlike a situation in which course material is static and the internship experience happens around that material, the integrated approach will sometimes require modification in the academic material. In many instances this will provide the faculty person with a pleasant variation on material to which he or she may have become accustomed. Of course in other situations, it might require a last minute flurry of work as the faculty person scrambles to put together appropriate academic material to accompany the experiential learning. One final cost that bears mentioning is the perceptions of students in a well- integrated, academically challenging program that they have much more work to complete than do interns from other programs who might work in the same organization. This was a complaint I heard many times during my time in the DC program. Students felt overwhelmed with the serious academic requirements in addition to their 4 day work week at their internships. Over the semester, however, these concerns seem to die down and some students even began working a fifth morning a week, before an afternoon seminar session. By the end of the semester, most students reported that the DC program had been a highlight of their college careers. 17

Authors: Nemacheck, Christine.
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was the variable over which I, as the instructor, had the least control. As the examples
above indicate, I need not have worried. The formula worked well and greatly enhanced
the students’ experiences on both the experiential and academic sides of the program.
Another resource that is essential for an integrated, thematic program is
flexibility. In a program where course material and students’ internship experiences
overlap it is quite likely that some topics on which students have had more exposure are
going to require further attention in class, and other topics may get less. Unlike a
situation in which course material is static and the internship experience happens around
that material, the integrated approach will sometimes require modification in the
academic material. In many instances this will provide the faculty person with a pleasant
variation on material to which he or she may have become accustomed. Of course in
other situations, it might require a last minute flurry of work as the faculty person
scrambles to put together appropriate academic material to accompany the experiential
learning.
One final cost that bears mentioning is the perceptions of students in a well-
integrated, academically challenging program that they have much more work to
complete than do interns from other programs who might work in the same organization.
This was a complaint I heard many times during my time in the DC program. Students
felt overwhelmed with the serious academic requirements in addition to their 4 day work
week at their internships. Over the semester, however, these concerns seem to die down
and some students even began working a fifth morning a week, before an afternoon
seminar session. By the end of the semester, most students reported that the DC program
had been a highlight of their college careers.
17


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