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Teaching Practicum Guidelines for a Minor in College Teaching

The minor in college teaching requires the completion of a teaching practicum.

Effective teaching, like any other skill, demands practice and the guidance of skilled faculty members. The teaching practicum allows inexperienced as well as experienced teachers to benefit from instructional expertise and faculty mentoring within their own disciplines.

The practicum also gives future faculty the opportunity to experiment with new teaching techniques and styles.

Mentorship from a faculty member

The teaching practicum is not an independent teaching experience. A faculty member oversees a guided teaching/learning experience and provides feedback and supervision.

The practicum can be completed:

  • In a faculty member’s course in which the faculty member remains the primary instructor for the course, or
  • In a course for which the graduate student is the primary instructor.

In each case, evidence of in-class instruction and a range of supervisory and reflective experiences must be documented.

While flexibility is allowed in meeting this requirement, it must be demonstrated that the practicum experience meets MU’s academic standards for the graduate credits provided.

Gaining meaningful experience

The teaching practicum should be designed to give the student actual teaching experience and developmental feedback. Practicum students should be involved in course planning and implementation as well as assessment of students and of the course throughout the semester.

Students should perform a variety of instructional roles, including, at a minimum, the independent teaching of a subject unit in the course and regular classroom attendance for a semester. The supervising instructor should approve all assessment instruments developed by the practicum student.

Specific requirements

Hours of instruction

  • The teaching practicum should include a minimum of 15 hours of face-to-face instruction. These teaching hours can be divided in many different ways, such as weekly hour-long sessions or several intense weekend workshops.
  • While shorter teaching experiences can be useful, this minimum requirement insures that our students will be in a teaching setting long enough to have a variety of experiences and deal with a range of challenges during the practicum.
  • The 15 hours of instruction time does not include preparation hours.

Supervision by a faculty member

  • The teaching practicum must be undertaken with the supervision of a faculty member at MU. The MU faculty member must be the instructor of record in the practicum course in which the practicum student is enrolled. However, an instructor at another institution of higher education can provide additional classroom observation and supervision.
  • Students work with supervisors to design the practicum and receive feedback on all aspects of course design, delivery and assessment.

Number of students

The course being taught by the teaching practicum student must include at least five students.

Number of observations by supervisor

The practicum student must be observed teaching at least two class sessions. The faculty supervisor should conduct these observations. If unable to be present at both, the faculty supervisor can arrange for a member of the Teaching and Learning Center at Mizzou or another faculty member to conduct some number of the observations. An instructor from the Program for Excellence in Teaching may record class instruction for review and feedback by the faculty supervisor at a later date.

Reflection/self appraisal

The practicum student should complete self-appraisal and course appraisal before the class visit. The appraisal should be the basis for a conference discussion between the student and the supervisor/observer before the class observation.

This appraisal should address:

  • An overview of the class to date.
  • The practicum student’s overall course objectives and teaching philosophy.
  • How well the students in class are prepared and motivated.
  • The physical or environmental factors that may be influencing the class.
  • The teaching approaches being used and reasons for using them.
  • The direct purpose of the observation and particular needs or things to look for.
  • The practicum student’s goals for the class being observed.
  • Class assignments/activities and those that preceded the class.

The supervisor/observer should review the course syllabus carefully before visiting the class.

Observation process

  • The practicum student should inform his/her class before the class visit, explaining the purpose and value of the observation and encourage students to act as natural as possible.
  • The class observation should last the entire class, or at least 50 minutes for a multi-hour class.
  • The supervisor/observer should use the same procedures and observation checklist for each observation (Sample observation check-lists are available at the Teaching and Learning Center at Mizzou).
  • The supervisor/observer should comment on student behavior as well as practicum student behavior.

Written and verbal feedback

Based on the observation and pre-observation consultation, and examination of course materials, the supervisor/observer should provide written feedback (download form) and verbal feedback to the practicum student regarding:

  • Communication skills
  • Enthusiasm
  • Clarity of instruction
  • Organization
  • Selection of course and lesson content
  • Appropriateness of course objectives
  • Appropriateness of instructional materials (e.g., readings, use of media)
  • Application of most appropriate methodology for teaching specific content areas
  • Commitment to teaching and concern for student learning
  • Student achievement based on performance on exams and projects

The supervisor/observer should prepare a detailed follow-up report and meet with the practicum student to discuss results of the observation within one week of the classroom visit.

Format of feedback

It is recommended that the supervisor/observer provide feedback following this format:

  • Ask the practicum student to share his/her reactions and thoughts of the class.
  • Review written comments made during and after the observation.
  • Start feedback with positive comments and strengths, then discuss weaknesses and suggestions for improvement.
  • Avoid judgmental statements.
  • Discuss follow-up improvement activities.
  • Schedule additional observations as needed.

Response by practicum student

The practicum student should write a reflective analysis of the observation. This should be included in the practicum portfolio.

Capstone practicum portfolio

A practicum portfolio, approved by the practicum student’s supervisor and submitted to  210 Jesse Hall, should be used to document successful completion of a teaching practicum. The program completion form (PDF) should also be submitted at that time.

The portfolio should contain:

  • An overall description of the teaching practicum.
  • A philosophy of teaching statement.
  • A copy of the syllabus.
  • A sample lesson plan.
  • Examples of student work.
  • Evaluations by students of the practicum student’s teaching.
  • Pre-observation appraisal reports.
  • Supervisor/observer’s classroom observation reports.
  • Practicum student’s reflective journal.