Frequently Asked Questions about EC/ECSE practicum
What is the purpose of an ECSE practicum?
During the period of teacher candidate academic preparation for a master’s degree or endorsement in Early Childhood/ Early Childhood Special Education, the University of Northern Colorado has to provided a foundation of theory, knowledge, and field experiences to prospective early childhood special education teachers. However, the practicum experience offers the most focused, realistic teaching setting for translating academic learning into teaching competencies.
When a UNC graduate teacher candidate enrolls for a practicum, he or she is close to the end of the masters/endorsement program. The selection of the supervising professional and the practicum placement are tailored as much as possible to meet the student’s needs and those of the practicum setting. It is our hope that the student’s practicum setting demonstrates best practice in early childhood special education. Another reason for the practicum is that it is a requirement of the Colorado ECSE teacher licensure process.
What are the pre-requisites of the practicum?
- Successful passing of ECSE PLACE or RAXIS II test.
- Successful completion of the courses on your Professional Teacher Education Program (PTEP) plan.
- Completion on all required coursework as per your plan of study with an overall GPA of at least 3.0. With your advisor’s permission, you may begin practicum the semester that you are finishing your courses.
(Additionally you must have taken the Elementary (content) PLACE OR PRAXIS II or show documentation that you have the Elementary Licensure.)
Who are the key personnel involved in my practicum experience.
- Your Academic Advisor (at UNC)
- The Practicum Supervisor (at UNC)
- Your Supervising Professional(s)
- You (the teacher candidate)
What course do I register for?
You will register for EDSE 535.
How many credits are required for the practicum?
Students must take a minimum of 4 credit hours of Practicum in at least two of three age groups (i.e birth-3; 3-5; and 5-8).
Practicum credits range from( 4-12) depending upon the student’s past experiences with infants, toddlers, preschoolers and children in early primary grades of Kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade, or up to age 8. The environment and the number of credits will be decided on between the practicum supervisor and the student. Credit hours are apportioned so that students complete at least two (2) practicum experiences selected from the three age groups, (a) an infant/toddler practicum, (b) a preschool practicum and/ or (c) a practicum in kindergarten through grade 3.
What are the contact hour requirements?
For every hour of practicum registered, 50 contact hours are required. No more than 20 hours per credit can be utilized for professional activity. Professional activity hours are defined as parent meetings, conferences with your supervising professional, meetings, conference attendance, etc. For example, if you register for 2 credit hours for the 3- 5 year old practicum, one hundred (100) contact hours are required.
What happens during a practicum?
Practicum settings and experiences should address the student’s individual experience needs. The purpose of the practicum is to implement and practice concepts, ideas and activities the teacher candidate has learned and developed throughout the master’s/endorsement program. The teacher candidate is required to relate their experiences to the rubrics as outlined in Appendix B of the Practicum Handbook and should indicate that the teacher candidate has indeed put into practice those items outlined.
How rigid are the requirements for placement for a practicum?
Every attempt is made to tailor the practicum placement to the student's needs by taking into consideration availability and interest in variety of settings and time constraints of students who work full time. Some students may do their practicum hours during their regular jobs, if that job is with services in an inclusive setting in the age groups required. When students complete an on-the-job practicum, it is usually referred to as an internship.
What are the qualifications for a supervising professional?
First preference is for an experienced teacher who has an ECSE endorsement or licensure. Next preference is someone with a masters degree in special education with experience with young children. Teachers who have received National Board Certification in special education are also preferred. In addition, the following may be considered as supervising professionals: related specialists such as licensed occupational/physical therapists, speech language pathologists, general education teachers with experience with young children with special needs or principals of inclusive early education settings. Check with your practicum advisor if you have questions regarding the qualifications of the person you have selected as your supervising professional.
Are there deadlines for applying for practicum?
If you plan to take Practicum in:
- Spring Term notify your advisor by Sept. 15
- Summer Term notify your advisor by March 15
- Fall Term notify your advisor by April 15
Planning for practicum takes a lot of time and prior organizing- for you, for the practicum supervisor, for the supervising professional & the site you will work with. We will not be able to entertain any requests for practicum after the above mentioned dates.
Do all students need to take practicum course?
Yes, all students seeking ECSE licensure or endorsement are required to enroll and satisfactorily pass practicum course. For students not seeking ECSE licensure or endorsement, practicum requirement may be waived at the discretion of their academic advisor.