School of Psychological Sciences Field Experience

What is PSY 491? Who should take it and when should it be taken?

PSY 491, Psychology Field Experience, is the required internship for psychology majors only.  It is a repeatable, variable credit class (1-6) with 3 being the minimum credits required for the major. To enroll in PSY 491, students must be a Junior or Senior (completed a minimum of 60 university credits) and must have completed PSY 120. It is recommended, but not required, that students enroll before their final semester at UNC.

Why get excited about PSY 491?

Field Experience is a great opportunity to broaden your resume, add to your skill set, acquire professional connections, and see first-hand what it is like to engage in psychology-related work. 

An internship can be valuable in helping you choose a career path and/or decide among graduate programs.

What are the goals and objectives of the field experience?

PSY 491 is an experiential learning opportunity allowing students to observe and apply psychology in the workplace.   General objectives of the course include learning and using the skills pertinent to the chosen site, interacting with professionals in the field, becoming familiar with the language, concepts and specific tools that are relevant to the field site, and connecting on-site experiences with the content of  psychology coursework. Because of the wide variety of experiences students might have, depending on their placement, PSY 491 may support a variety of the School’s learning goals for psychology majors, including:

Knowledge:

  • Have a critical understanding of the major theoretical perspectives in psychology.
  • Understand the effects of the interaction between the person and the situation in influencing human behavior and subjective experience.
  • Understand the physiological bases of behavior.
  • Understand the basic principles explaining adaptive and maladaptive behaviors.
  • Be aware of multicultural perspectives on human behavior.
  • Understand the scientific basis of psychology and the relationship between theory and research.
  • Understand the different scientific methodologies employed by psychologists.
  • Be knowledgeable of descriptive and inferential statistics.
  • Be knowledgeable of the ethical issues related to the practice of psychology.
  • Be aware of the potential applications of psychology.

Skills:

  • Use the terminology of the discipline.
  • Use library and internet resources to conduct literature searches.
  • Understand and critically evaluate research articles in psychology.
  • Understand and critically evaluate psychological theories.
  • Design, conduct, and write up a research study.
  • Summarize and analyze data.
  • Write in American Psychological Association (APA) style

What field experience placements are possible?

The goal is to find a placement that is psychology related and agrees with the student’s professional interests and goals and with the student’s coursework in psychology. Given the breadth of the discipline (evidenced by the many different courses we offer: developmental psychology, counseling theories, health psychology, industrial psychology, research methods, psychology and the law etc. etc.), there are many different types of placements possible.  Following are just a handful of ideas but students are welcome to suggest other possibilities:

Does PSY 491 have to be completed in fall or spring and must the placement site be in Greeley?

No and no. PSY 491 is offered fall, spring, and summer. In the past, students have engaged in field experience out of town, out of state, and even out of the country.

What is required of students in PSY 491?

Forty-five hours of work at the placement site are required for each credit, 135 total hours for a typical 3-credit field experience. While there are no class meetings or exams, the Field Experience Coordinator generally requires periodic progress reports and a final paper.

How are students evaluated and grades determined?

Students are S/U graded. They are evaluated by their site supervisor at their placement who is required to submit a performance evaluation form to the Field Experience Coordinator.  The site supervisor must also independently verify that students have completed the required hours of work. A grade of U may result if the site supervisor’s evaluation and verification of hours are not submitted; if any required progress reports/papers are incomplete or poorly written; if the site supervisor provides an unsatisfactory evaluation.

How do students register for PSY 491?

This is a process that can take several days and sometimes requires as long as a couple of weeks. PLEASE BEGIN THE PROCESS BY MEETING WITH THE FIELD EXPERIENCE COORDINATOR THE SEMESTER BEFORE YOU INTEND TO REGISTER. Students are individually released to register by the Field Experience Coordinator. Generally, students first meet with the Coordinator to discuss their interests in psychology and professional goals and to receive the agreement form. The Coordinator makes suggestions for placements and evaluates ideas for placements that the students might already have.  It is up to the students to contact potential placements and set up appointments to meet with possible site supervisors. Ultimately, students must return to the Field Experience Coordinator a completed agreement form, signed by the site supervisor. Only when the agreement form is returned and approved may the Coordinator release a student to enroll.

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