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Communication Media Practicum

Do you work in the student media at West Chester University? Then you know just how much you can learn by getting involved in the production of media content. It's an opportunity to apply in a "hands on" way what you learn in the classroom. It's a chance to gain the kind of regular, practical experiences that help prepare you for a career in the media. Whether you're working at...
  • our campus newspaper,The Quad,
  • our campus radio station, WCUR-FM
  • our campus TV channel, WCU-TV
  • our community TV channel, WCC-TV
  • our weekly video news magazine, WCU Weekly
  • our yearbook, The Serpentine

...or some combination of the above, did you know that you can now earn academic credit for your involvement by enrolling in COM 112, the Communication Media Practicum?

COM 112 is an opportunity for students to receive academic credit for applying their knowledge and developing practical skills in the operation of student communication media at West Chester University. Unlike a traditional classroom-based course, COM 112 is a practicum, where students do “hands-on” work at one or more of the student media outlets on campus, including WCUR, WCU-TV, WCC-TV, WCU Weekly, The Serpentine and The Quad. Although students will meet at least twice with the practicum coordinator during the course of the semester, most course work will be done independently on a schedule that is mutually agreed to by the student media outlet, the practicum coordinator, and the practicum students.

IMPORTANT: The practicum coordinator does not have any authority to require a student media outlet to employ a COM 112 student. For this reason, students should already be working in some capacity at a student media outlet before enrolling in COM 112. In general, the practicum coordinator will not approve enrollment in COM 112 unless a student is already a member of a student media organization and has a clear expectation of being able to fulfill the practicum time requirement.

WORK SCHEDULE As a general rule, students will be required to demonstrate that they have successfully completed work experience that is comparable to what is required of students in Communication Internship (COM 400) for equivalent credit; that is, at least forty hours of work experience for each credit received. For most practicum students, this means that for every unit of credit, about 3 to 4 hours per week is required at the student media outlet. Students must negotiate with the student media outlet a work schedule that will allow them to log the number of hours required for the number of practicum credits attempted.

VARIABLE CREDIT Communication Media Practicum is a variable credit course, which means students may enroll for 1, 2 or 3 credits. Students may repeat the course multiple times, earning up to a maximum of 6 credits total. Students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisor regarding how practicum credit may apply to their specific academic major. One does not have to be a major or minor in the Department of Communication Studies to enroll in COM 112. Communication majors may count up to six hours of COM 112 credit toward their "applied area" requirement.

DOCUMENTATION All practicum students are required to maintain careful records of their work experiences, and to submit such documentation to the Practicum Coordinator in a timely manner. At a minimum, this includes keeping an ongoing log of activities with COM TimeTracker, an online time tracking application. Depending on the specific activities students are pursuing in their practicum, documentation could also include recording work experiences in a web journal or “blog,” preparing regular reports detailing accomplishments, and creating a portfolio with examples of creative achievements. In addition, all students will be required to submit a final printed report to the Practicum Coordinator at the end of the semester. Each practicum student is responsible for negotiating with the Practicum Coordinator a documentation plan that is mutually acceptable.

PRACTICUM MEETINGS All practicum students are required to meet with the Practicum Coordinator at least twice during the course of the semester: once during the first week of the semester, and once near the end of the semester. Students may also arrange individual meetings with the Practicum Coordinator at mutually agreed upon times, typically during the Practicum Coordinator's office hours. In addition, practicum students must attend any required meetings of the student media outlet(s) at which they are working (such as WCUR General Staff meetings, Quad Editorial Meetings, etc.). Time spent in these meetings can be included in a student’s work schedule for purposes of determining academic credit.

EVALUATION CRITERIA Practicum students will receive a grade for their work that reflects (1) timely completion of their practicum work schedule, (2) successful completion of all documentation requirements, (3) attendance at any required practicum meetings, and (4) submission of a final practicum report. In assigning a grade for this course, the Practicum Coordinator may also consider evaluations received from the student leadership at the media outlet(s) where the practicum was completed.

For more information, please contact the Practicum Coordinator, Philip A. Thompsen, 508 Main Hall. You can call him at 610-436-2283, or send an e-mail to pthompsen@wcupa.edu.