Experiential Learning in Kinesiology

  Also read FAQ for Experiential Learning in Kinesiology.


Practicums, Internships, and Projects - What's the Difference?

Essentially, educational practicums and internships are supervised on-site work experiences that allow students to practice and demonstrate their developing skills and competencies in their chosen career. While these experiences bear some similarities in design, their purpose and scope are quite different.


The Practicum Experience

Practicums are field experiences that allow students to observe and document how working professionals perform their job responsibilities. Students will also have limited participation in performing tasks under supervision by program professors and/or on-site staff. Concurrently, students typically enroll in a course which outlines the expectations and requirements of the practicum.

The expectations associated with a practicum vary according to the career. For example, a practicum in teaching may require assisting the teacher with implementing small group instruction, whereas a practicum in nursing may entail recording vital signs for one or two patients under supervision. General characteristics of practicums could include:

  • Shadowing one or more assigned employees who will guide the on-site experience.
  • Observing and associating practices in the field with theories and methods previously studied in class.
  • Recording data or assisting with tasks as directed by on-site personnel.
  • Completing practicum course assignments.

Participation at the practicum site is typically two or three times per week for a few hours per session. No compensation is expected for a practicum (e.g., students cannot receive pay for a practicum), but it does qualify for academic credit.


The Internship Experience

As compared to practicums, internships take on the characteristics of a real job focusing on application of skills and theoretical knowledge in the work setting. Students work with on-site professionals who manage their workload and oversee their performance much as an administrator in an actual employment setting would. The Experiential Learning Coordinator communicates with the on-site professional during the course of the internship to evaluate students’ progress and performance. On occasion, an on-site visit might occur, but this would be pre-arranged.

Internships are usually considered full-time experiences, following the work schedule of the assigned placement. They also receive academic credit, and in some cases, may provide a stipend for services rendered.


What’s the difference between a practicum and an internship?

A major difference between a practicum and an internship involves the degree of expected involvement of the student with hands-on work. The expansion of task expectations can be demonstrated using the previous examples from the education and medical fields. Compared to a practicum student, student teaching interns would not only assist with lesson planning but also collaborate with their supervising teachers to create and instruct whole-group lessons independently. In a similar fashion, nursing interns would go beyond mere charting of vital signs. They would be expected to understand and independently perform evaluation procedures on multiple patients, then accurately record their results and consult with their nursing supervisor about them.

As an avenue for preparing graduates for careers, academic practicum and internship experiences are valuable tools for learning. They not only afford students opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and practice their skills in real world settings but prepare students for the realities of the workplace. By understanding the differences between a practicum and an internship, students have the advantage of being better prepared to navigate the curriculum of the degree programs they are pursuing.


Experiential Learning

The Experiential Learning requirement in KIN can take many forms - from practicum to Internship, but also can include things like research and study abroad experiences. So how do you determine which to sign up for?

Please be sure to watch the internship orientation before you sign up for an advising session.


  For questions please contact Experiential Learning Coordinator: Dee Gillen, MS


KIN 307

KIN 307 Seminar is a one-credit preparatory course for planning a practicum or internship. It is highly recommended for all KIN students (especially those planning to complete a KIN 410 internship) and will count toward the required 24 credits of KIN Beyond the Core.

note KIN 307 does not count towards the required 3 credits of Experiential Learning.


KIN 344, 345

KIN 344, 345 Pre-Therapy/Allied Health Practicums are available only to students in the PTAH option. Students must apply the term prior to take KIN 343 Seminar and KIN 344 Practicum concurrently.

note KIN 343 does not count towards experiential learning credit requirement in KIN Beyond the Core.

After completing KIN 344, a student can do additional hours under the KIN 345. KIN 344 practicums are available for only 1 credit (3 hrs/wk. for 10 wks). KIN 345 practicum may be taken for 1-2 credits (3 or 6 hrs/wk for 10 wks).

Students should work with their advisor in planning when to take and apply for KIN 343 & 344. Emily Norcross, MA, ATC is the coordinator of the PTAH practicums.


Physical Education and Adapted Physical Education Practicum Experience:

Students interested in pursuing physical education and/or adapted physical education need to register for KIN 409. For guidance on finding a placement setting, students should contact Jennifer Beamer at least one term prior.


KIN 301 or 401

KIN 301 or 401 Research and Scholarship - These credits are variable between 1-16 credits. Students would be directed toward this course designator if they were pursuing academic research under the guidance of faculty, whether under the URAP or URISC programs or independently. The hours and expectations would be arranged with the faculty through what is called a "TBA" (To-Be-Arranged) form.


KIN 306 & 406

KIN 306 & 406 Special Projects - (variable credit) In conjunction with the Experiential Learning Coordinator or a designated faculty, students enrolling in one of these courses will engage in designing or developing a project related to KIN.


KIN 409

KIN 409 Practicum – These credits are available for variable credit (1-5). KIN 409 is often used when students wish to do only one to five credits of Experiential Learning. Using the guidelines above, experiences may include shadowing, assisting with data, or operational tasks at the site. The setting needs to be pre-arranged and approved the term prior by the KIN Experiential Learning Coordinator.


KIN 410

KIN 410 Internship – This course designator is used when a student is looking to complete a larger experience (6-15 cr.) that will entail a project or implementation of a program. Using the guidelines above, the student will have a larger degree of responsibility established by the on-site supervisor. The setting needs to be pre-arranged and approved at least one term prior by the KIN Internship coordinator.


  Also read FAQ for Experiential Learning in Kinesiology.