While each program portfolio contains the same components, how these components are put together is up to each student. As a result, each program portfolio is unique.
The Practicum is the capstone experience of the Masters of Arts in Environmental Education (MEE) Program. It is a field-based experience that mirrors the integrative goals of the Summer Institute. During the Practicum, students who have finished their course requirements are challenged to put into practice a thoughtful and effective vision of environmental education through a teaching internship placement and the development of a program portfolio that provides them with the opportunity to reflect on and integrate the work they have done over the course of their time in the program.
The Practicum includes several main components:
♦ Internship: Students must complete over 200 hours of field work with approximately 60% of their time engaged in hands-on instruction, 30% in curriculum development, and the remaining in onsite instructional planning, research or leadership activities, and other responsibilities appropriate to their internship placement. Students are assisted in finding internship sites, which need to be in the general area of UNH, by their advisors and the Practicum instructor. Past internship sites include the Seacoast Science Center, the Great Bay Discovery Center, the NH Audubon Massabesic Center, the UNH Marine Docent Program, the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, and a variety of other nature centers, camp and recreational programs, and public and private school classrooms.
♦ Practicum Seminar: Students are required to attend a weekly seminar, which will provide them with a structured opportunity for reflection, discussion, and inquiry into their teaching context. The work of each seminar will differ according to the particular group of students it serves, but meetings will focus largely on students teaching and helping each other with issues of curriculum development and implementation, the qualities of effective instruction, and portfolio development. Students will also share at least one videotape of their teaching and various drafts of their portfolios in order to gather feedback and share ideas and suggestions.
♦ Observations: Students will be observed onsite by their Practicum instructor or another faculty member. The goal is to provide students with an opportunity to engage in a dialogue with an outside observer to get useful feedback about their teaching and chart their growth over the course of their placement. Students are also encouraged to observe other environmental educators, both at their internship site and throughout the Seacoast region.
♦ Program Portfolio: Students complete and publicly present their program portfolios at the end of the Practicum. The portfolio is designed to be both a developmental and comprehensive demonstration of student learning that begins with each student’s entry into the MEE Program. The portfolio is developmental in the sense that it draws on work that students have done throughout their participation in the program. The portfolio should demonstrate growth over this period and serve as a foundation for reflection on, and integration of, these accomplishments. The organization of the portfolio is based on each student's environmental education pedagogy, and as a whole it should demonstrate how the student has worked to become the kind of environmental educator that he or she wants to be. In addition, the portfolio is comprehensive in the sense that students use it to demonstrate competency in each of the MEE Program’s three focus areas - Environmental Science; Environmental Values, Policy, and Planning; and Curriculum and Instructional Methods. Each of the artifacts that students include in their portfolios should be clearly identified in relation to one or more of these focus areas. In addition to artifacts and reflections on their significance, each student includes in the portfolio his or her environmental education pedagogy, a curriculum project that he or she has developed and taught, a final self evaluation essay, and a professional development plan.