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Southern Oregon University

Introduction
Policies & Procedures

Agreements

Below are two sample agreements in PDF format. To download Adobe Acrobat, click here.

 Introduction

Southern Oregon University is committed to experiential education for its students. An academic internship or practicum is a work experience in an on- or off-campus setting for which a student receives academic credit. Supervision is provided for the student at the place of assignment by a designated on-site supervisor. An SOU internship coordinator on campus further supervises and evaluates the student's progress and serves as a liaison between the internship site and the University.

It is recommended that there be clear and mutually understood roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the learning contract. Regardless of whether the student receives compensation (such as wages, scholarship assistance, tuition reimbursement), the student is not considered an employee of either SOU or the experience site by virtue of the experiential learning agreement alone. In the capacity of a student trainee, the student has responsibilities and liabilities distinctly different from those of an employee.

Policies and procedures for obtaining a learning experience vary across campus. Each academic unit offering such experiences maintains responsibility for identifying, screening, and accepting positions for which a student may apply. To obtain credit, the student must enroll in a recognized course.

 General Policies and Procedures

 1. Credit Hours

The basic relationship between hours and credits is based on a minimum of 3 hours per week for one quarter per each practicum credit. For example, a 3-credit internship or practicum would require a minimum of 90 hours of work related to the internship or practicum.
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 2. Financial Reimbursement

The primary reason for participating in an internship or practicum is to apply academic knowledge in a practical setting. It is recognized that in certain situations students are paid. If this is the case, the University recommends that:

a. The student and the host adhere to policies developed by the departments for compensation.

b. If compensation is permitted by the department, the extent of compensation is to be arranged by the student and the host in accordance with institutional and state legal policy. The contract for academic credit is between the student and the department; the contract for work and compensation is usually between the student and the host, unless a formal agreement specifies otherwise.

c. Departments that allow internship or practicum credit in a student's currently existing place of employment should require activity beyond that incorporated in the regular activity of the job and should be documented in the student contract.

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 3. Scholarships

If a firm or organization wishes to donate a scholarship to the University in exchange for a student's completion of an assignment or project, the following conditions must apply:

a. A scholarship is awarded to a student to enable that student to begin and/or continue University studies.

b. A scholarship must be subject to open competition based on objective criteria such as relevant academic standards and accomplishments or public service. A scholarship cannot be established for a pre-selected individual student. Scholarship qualifications/selection criteria must be established and published in advance.

c. Normally, scholarship funds are donated to the University Foundation which in turn disburses them to the University on a timely basis. The scholarship amount must be deposited in-full with the University prior to the first term for which it has been awarded. The donor cannot postpone payment of or rescind the scholarship contingent on the student performing work for the donor or completing projects for the donor.

d. All scholarship arrangements must be approved in writing in advance by the Financial Aid Office.
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 4. Supervision

Two types of supervision characterize most internships or practica programs: academic supervision and work-site supervision. Academic supervision varies across disciplines. Some departments are mandated by professional requirements to provide on-site, direct faculty supervision of all work during the experiential learning. Other departments may periodically conduct on-site visits and/or make telephone contacts with work-site supervisors. Some departments conduct weekly campus meetings of interns or practicum students. Less structured supervision might consist of occasional contact between the student and faculty advisor and written evaluation from the work site supervisor.

Work site supervision will vary depending on the departmental, professional and/or work site requirements. Because of this variation, guidelines should be clearly documented between each department and each participating work site. Students should have access to these guidelines so that they may fully understand and monitor the extent and appropriateness of on-site supervision.
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 5. Evaluation

Because academic credit is awarded for an internship or practicum experience, a university faculty member should direct the evaluation process and award the final grade. At a minimum, evaluation should be based on two sources of information: the participating student and the work-site supervisor. Evaluations should be in written form to ensure an audit trail of the evaluation process.
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 6. Pass/No Pass vs. Letter Grade

Undergraduate students have a general preference for pass /no pass grading for practica and internships. However, there are institutional limits on the number of units and courses that may be taken P/NP. Undergraduate students who have reached these limits prior to participating in experiential learning are required to have a graded experiential learning. University policy requires graduate course experiential learning to be graded.
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 7. Limits on Total Amount of Internship or Practicum Credit Toward Degree

The University will accept 15 hours per prefix and 30 hours total of practicum credit. This cutoff reflects the balance between regular course-work and experiential education.
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8. Workplace Requirements

In general, students must meet the same workplace requirements as employees as long as these are legal requirements. Should a student refuse to comply with requirements, we advise that: (1) the department attempt to negotiate between the student and the experiential learning site; (2) if negotiation is unsuccessful, the department will attempt to find another experiential learning site for the student; (3) if it is not possible to find an experiential learning site for the student, then it is the student's responsibility to modify behavior, expectations, or academic program.
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9. Liability Insurance

Questions frequently arise as to the liability, property, or workers' compensation insurance provided to students participating in experiential learning programs. Southern Oregon University does not offer coverage to these students, questions may be addressed to: Elizabeth Sunitsch, Risk Manager for Southern Oregon University. Email: sunitsch@sou.edu
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10. Standardization of Experiential Learning Paperwork

The University recommends that all types of experiential learning be guided by written agreements with both the experiential learning provider and students (see Work-Site/SOU or  Student/Faculty agreements). In particular, there should be notification of experiential learning standards, discrimination policy, termination of student participation, and limits of liability and insurance. A one-time written participation agreement should be kept on file at the time of initial involvement with a experiential learning provider. Each student should be apprised of and agree to these policies. There should not be any verbal agreements governing these relationships.
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11. Student Documentation of Experiential Learning

Documentation of experiential learning should reflect the goals established for experiential learning. These will vary from department to department and from student to student. In each case the documentation requirement should be established at the beginning of the experiential learning, rather than at the end. The following guidelines are recommended:

a. Minimally each internship or practicum proposal should require a plan for the work to be carried out. The plan details would be transferred to a contract to be signed by the student and faculty member. Some departments may have contract templates already established that would allow the student to merely fill out the required blanks and describe the work. Irregular work. Irregular registration forms may be used for these purposes.

b. Each student should write a culminating report that is filed with the faculty supervisor at the end of the experience. Each department should specify the report requirements for its students. This report should describe how the practicum goals were met and indicate those that were not met. This report, together with the contract, should be kept to create an experiential learning history for the department. Some departments may have additional and more rigid report requirements than those indicated here. Experiential learning projects that are used to meet capstone requirements should also show how the goals of the capstone were met, should exhibit a more advanced writing standard, and display high professional skills in the academic area.

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 12. Agency Contracts

All arrangements with non-University agencies and/or companies should be documented in the form of a contract. The department shall secure the approval of the Director of Business Services or Vice President for Administration and Finance for any documents used for site agreements.
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 13. Eligibility for Experiential Learning Experience

The University recommends that students' eligibility for experiential learning be guided by departmental policy.
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 14. Professional Board Requirements

A variety of disciplines/departments require specific practica/internships. These occur mainly in professional degree areas where the number of experiential learning hours and settings are mandated by regulatory boards. These requirements frequently change, and each department should specifically state professional expectations and requirements in the written departmental policy.
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