The Pre-Service Practicum: Perspectives of Students from Three Disciplines

Edwin George Ralph


A supervised practical experience of on-the-job training is an essential part of the pre-service preparation of professionals in all disciplines. This article forms one segment of a larger interdisciplinary, pan-Canadian research project examining the future of the practicum/clinical phase of undergraduate professional preparation. For the present portion of the study, responses were solicited from 546 post-practicum students in three professional disciplines (Engineering, Nursing, and Teacher Education), concerning what they considered to be the most positive and the most negative aspects of their recently completed practicum or clinical field-experiences.
The data analysis demonstrated that, although unique positive and negative themes characterized the respective programs, there were also common strengths and weaknesses evident across the disciplines. Three of the positive themes were: (a) the supportive relationships that students developed with various participants in the practicum program; (b) their perceptions of their successful technical and/or professional achievements; and (c) their feelings of self-efficacy in being able to positively contribute to the welfare of those they were serving.
Similarly, three common themes reflected students’ conceptions of negative elements of their practicum experiences: individual personal/professional challenges; site-based interpersonal concerns; and university-related policy/procedural problems.
Implications are discussed for practicum leaders interested in considering these data to help inform the enhancement-process of their respective programs.


Higher Education; Professional Education; Undergraduate preservice preparation;Clinical education; Internship; The practicum

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Higher Education Perspectives. ISSN: 1710-1530