University of Missouri-Columbia
School of Information
Science and Learning Technologies
Practicum Guide and Syllabus for
Practicum in Information Agencies
for Admission to the Practicum
for Developing Q381 Practicum Learning Plan
SISLT Q381 Practicum Director
the Supervising Librarian/Archivist
University of Missouri-Columbia
School of Information Science and Learning
Syllabus and Practicum Guide for
Q381 Practicum in Information Agencies
(Effective for Practicum Summer
- Course Description
1-3 cr. hrs. Provides a supervised work experience for master's degree
students in a public, academic, or special library. Prerequisite: departmental
consent. Grading is satisfactory/unsatisfactory.
- Prerequisites for Admission to the Practicum
- Plan in Advance. Contact one or more potential practicum sites and talk to
individuals who might supervise your practicum. Then, contact the Q381
Practicum Director to discuss possible placements and potential supervising
librarian/archivist. While you may suggest possible practicum sites to the
Practicum Director, the final decision regarding placement rests with the
Important Note: Practicum placement is not permitted at the site
where you are currently employed. The supervising librarian/archivist must
have an ALA-accredited MLS or equivalent degree. A supervising archivist
must be certified by the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) or have an
equivalent degree with appropriate experience. If the practicum is completed
in an information agency that does not normally employ professional
librarians, the practicum must be supervised by an information professional
who holds an appropriate graduate qualification. Consult with your faculty
advisor and the Practicum Director concerning the appropriateness of your
- Complete a copy of the Practicum Application and forward it to the Q381
Practicum Director during Early Registration for the semester in which you
plan to enroll in the practicum. Consent to enroll will not be given until all
required materials are on file.
- Completion of the following course requirements:
- Q301 Introduction to Information Technology
- Q302 Organization of Information or Q312 Cataloging and
- Q314 Reference Sources and Services
- Q315 Management of Information Agencies
- Additional courses that would be particularly useful in preparing
students for their particular practicum experience (ex., Q416 Information in
Health Sciences for a student planning to work in a medical library during
the practicum). Such additional courses will be identified in consultation
with the Practicum Director and your faculty advisor.
- Submission of the completed Practicum Learning Plan.
- Course Objectives
To provide opportunities for students to:
- Participate in a variety of activities and situations that are
comparable to those of a professional position within an information
- Engage in critical thinking exercises and problem-solving related to
- Identify personal areas of strength and areas for continuing
- Engage in experiences that will provide opportunities to combine
classroom theory and on-the-job practice in a professional context and to
demonstrate and test their professional skills.
- Develop professional attitudes and effective interpersonal relationships
in a library/information agency environment.
- Course Requirements
- Complete the requisite number of hours for the practicum placement. The
length of time in the field placement and course credit varies with individual
student needs and objectives. Minimum time in the field for 2 credit hours is
90 clock hours. Minimum time in the field for 3 credit hours is 135 clock
- Develop a written Practicum Learning Plan with goals and objectives for
the practicum experience. Identify your goals and objectives in consultation
with your supervising librarian/archivist. Goals/objectives should include 2-3
projects/learning activities for a 2 credit hour practicum; 3-4
projects/learning activities for a 3 credit hour practicum. Include a written
day/time schedule with the Learning Plan. The student and supervising
librarian/archivist must sign the Learning Plan indicating that both have
discussed the Plan and are in agreement regarding the activities and
experiences included. You must submit the Practicum Learning Plan draft
for approval by the Practicum Director before receiving course consent
and beginning your practicum.
- E-mail the Q381 Practicum Director a minimum of 3 to 4 times during a 2
credit hour practicum; 4 to 5 times during a 3 credit hour practicum. In these
communications, reflect on your practicum experience. This is not a
description of practicum activities. You are to evaluate and analyze what you
are learning as you work toward achieving the goals/objectives you identified
in your Learning Plan. Your final evaluation/analysis, which should consider
the entire practicum, must be a formal paper, no more than 3 pages in
- Ask your supervising librarian/archivist to contact the Practicum Director
with an informal appraisal of your performance at approximately the midpoint
of your practicum.
- Ensure that all paperwork is submitted promptly to the Q381 Practicum
Director the end of the practicum period. You will not receive a grade for the
course unless all forms have been completed and are submitted to the Practicum
Director before the close of the semester. You are responsible for the
- Copy of the supervising librarian's/archivist's Final Evaluation of your
performance as a practicum student.
- Your final summative evaluation/analysis of your practicum experience
and reflection on your progress toward your goals/objectives. The Final
Evaluation/Analysis should be word-processed, no more than 3 pages in
length, double-spaced, 12 point type, with margins of at least one-inch.
- Student Evaluation of the supervising librarian/archivist
- Q380/Q381 Course Evaluation
- Supervision of Practicum
The supervising librarian/archivist at the placement site will direct and
guide the activities of the student on a day-to-day basis. The Q381 Practicum
Director will communicate with the supervising librarian/archivist on an ongoing
basis. A site visit may occasionally be scheduled both to provide opportunities
to consult with the student and the supervising librarian/archivist, and to
provide the Practicum Director with an opportunity to observe the student
working in the practicum setting.
- Payment for Services
- Practicum students will not receive direct payment for services rendered
to the library or information agency.
- Supervising librarians/archivists will not receive direct payment for
instruction or supervision provided a practicum student.
- Individual Conferences
Individual conferences may take place at the time of a site visit or upon
the request of the student and/or supervising librarian/archivist.
You must inform the supervising librarian/archivist of any absence
prior to the absence. In the event that an emergency absence occurs,
contact the supervising librarian/archivist as soon as possible. Generally,
excused absences include personal illness or illness of an immediate family
member, death in the family, interviews for potential employment, and other
significant events. Consistently late arrival at the practicum site is
inappropriate. Three late arrivals are considered an unexcused absence that
will be reflected in your grade for the course.
Evaluation entails a variety of criteria. These criteria are reflected in the
Final Evaluation form. Since the practicum experience is a University course,
the Practicum Director is responsible for assigning the final grade of
Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The grade assignment results from the continuous
evaluation conducted throughout the practicum placement by the supervising
librarian/archivist and Q381 Practicum Director. The grade of Satisfactory is
intended to identify performance at or above the average expected performance. A
grade of Unsatisfactory signifies that the performance of the practicum student
is unacceptable in one or more areas, and that the student has been notified
that the performance is unacceptable. Assistance and support have been offered
to improve the performance but the student has failed to take advantage of the
help offered and/or has not improved his/her performance to a satisfactory level
by the end of the field placement. Facets of performance of the practicum
student to be considered by the supervising librarian/archivist
- Work performance,
- Relationships with other personnel,
- Relationships with patrons/clients,
- Work attitudes.
Because of the unique nature of the relationship, the supervising
librarian/archivist plays a significant role in the evaluation; however, because
the practicum is a University course for which academic credit is awarded, the
Practicum Director has the final authority and responsibility for assigning a
grade. Practicum grades are recorded and the Final Evaluation is placed in the
- Guidelines for Developing Q381 Practicum Learning
- Develop the Practicum Learning Plan in consultation with the supervising
librarian/archivist. Realistically assess your professional development as a
beginning librarian. Use your previous library experience and a review of your
LIS course work to uncover gaps in your experience. If you are currently
working in a library or information agency, consider your work setting as well
as the practicum in identifying objectives.
- Include the following information:
- Name, address, contact phone number and e-mail address during the
- A list of all courses (by course number, name and semester taken) that
you have completed to date towards you master's degree. Place an asterisk
beside any courses you did not complete through the University of
Missouri-Columbia (MU courses include our courses taken through MU Direct,
and courses taken at St. Louis, Kansas City or Springfield).
- Name, address, contact telephone number, and e-mail address of the
- Name, address, and contact telephone number of the practicum
- Beginning and ending dates of the practicum experience.
- Based on your self-assessment and consultation, identify potential
learning objectives for the practicum and prioritize them. The objectives
should be specific and measurable and include timelines. Describe exactly what
you hope to achieve or obtain during the practicum (ex., I expect to become
involved in at least three children's programs during my practicum,) Develop a
plan of action and strategies for achieving each objective. Goals/objectives
should include 2-3 projects/activities for a 2 credit hour practicum, or 3-4
projects/activities for a 3 credit hour practicum.
- Identify resources needed to achieve the objectives and the persons
- Submit a draft of the Practicum Learning Plan to the Practicum Director.
After the Director has reviewed and approved the Plan, a course consent will
be issued that will enable you to enroll in the practicum.
- Make any necessary revisions to the Learning Plan. Sign and date the
Learning Plan and have the Learning Plan signed and dated by the supervising
librarian/archivist. Submit the Learning Plan to the Practicum
- Revisit your Learning Plan throughout your practicum and again at the
close of your field experience placement. Assess your progress toward the
areas targeted for growth. In the final analytical paper concerning your field
experience, summarize each goal or objective along with an evaluation and
analysis/discussion of progress made or achievement. Any difficulties or
barriers should be included in the discussion.
- Practicum Responsibilities
- The Student will:
- Develop the Practicum Learning Plan in consultation with the supervising
librarian/archivist at the initial meeting and develop an outline of planned
practicum activities that support the identified professional development
- Submit a signed copy of the Practicum Learning Plan the Q381 Practicum
Director before beginning your field experience along with the day/time
- Consult with the supervising librarian/archivist regarding any special
requirements related to the host information agency.
- Adhere to all policies and rules of the host information agency (daily
arrival and departure times for professional staff, etc.)
- Communicate, dress and act as a professional. Exemplify professionalism in
dealing with confidential information.
- Become familiar with the information agency, its services and
- Perform appropriate professional level duties and responsibilities
according to the Practicum Learning Plan under the direction of the
- Assume responsibility for the quality of the practicum experience. Be
proactive. Seek out involvement possibilities.
- The Supervising Librarian/Archivist will:
- Orient the practicum student to the information agency's policies and
- Orient the student to the profession and provide opportunities for
participation in professional activities and personal professional
- Provide the practicum student with a designated personal workspace, along
with any materials such as policies and procedures manuals, guides, emergency
procedures, daily schedules, etc.
- Enable the practicum student to assume increasing responsibility for
activities in the information agency.
- Provide the practicum student with continuous evaluation, both in
conferences and incidentally.
- Confer with the Q381 Practicum Director at the midpoint of the student's
placement to discuss perceptions regarding the studentís progress, exchange
information and seek suggestions if necessary. This may be done by telephone
- Prepare the formal final written evaluation. Confer with the student about
the evaluation. Forward the evaluation or submit the evaluation electronically
to the Q381 Practicum Director. Both the supervising librarian/archivist and
the student should retain a copy of the final evaluation for their personal
A practicum generally involves a "round-robin" of experiences in the library
or information agency (for example, a student could spend 20 hours of the field
experience in the reference department, 20 hours cataloging, 20 supervising
support staff and student workers, etc.). However, the supervising
librarian/archivist might, in some circumstances, perfer to provide instead a
more specialized practicum. With the permission of the Q381 Practicum Director,
a practicum may be concentrated in one department or information agency (for
example, in Archives or in children's services).
Although it is recognized that professional information workers will from
time to time perform routine tasks, it is not the purpose of the
practicum to provide students opportunities to work extensively at tasks that
should be expected of support staff. Work assignments and/or projects should
not be designed with the intention of clearing up backlogs of clerical tasks
accumulated by the site.
- The SISLT Q381 Practicum Director will:
- Act as liaison in acquainting the supervising librarian/archivist other
personnel with the nature and purpose of the practicum experience.
- Assist with the identification of prospective supervising
librarians/archivists and the assignment of practicum students.
- Provide pertinent materials to practicum students, supervising
librarians/archivists and other individuals as appropriate.
- Provide practicum students with information regarding course objectives,
requirements, activities to be evaluated, grading practices and
- Consult with the student's faculty advisor on the advisability of a
practicum waiver for a SISLT student, based on the student's prior work
experience in libraries and information agencies
- Receive and discuss the Learning Plan with the student
- Confer with the supervising librarian/archivist at regular intervals to
discuss the needs of the practicum student.
- Assist the student and supervising librarian/archivist with the process of
evaluating progress, especially in the area of reflective
- Evaluate the total environment where the practicum student is
- Assist when and if problems are encountered in any aspect of the
- Oversee preparation of the final evaluation and determine the final grade
after consulting with the supervising librarian/archivist.
- Establish and maintain a database of potential practicum sites.
- Evaluating the Supervising
The supervising librarian/archivist and Practicum Director have the primary
responsibility for evaluating the practicum student's performance. Similarly,
the practicum student has a right and responsibility to assess the
effectiveness of the supervising librarian/archivist. Practicum students
complete formal evaluations of their supervising librarian(s)/archivist(s).
Data collected from these evaluations are used to assist in improving
field-based experiences. Because students are assured anonymity when
completing these forms, individual evaluations are kept confidential. Data are
analyzed annually and a summary of findings is compiled at the end of each
- Resolving Problems
Despite the best intentions and efforts, problems sometimes arise between the
practicum student and the student's(s). If the problem cannot be resolved
through discussion, the following steps must be taken in the order
- Contact the Practicum Director. The Director will discuss the matter with
each party, individually, and arrange and coordinate a meeting for all
- If no satisfactory resolution is reached, the LIS Program Coordinator will
be contacted. The Program Coordinator will discuss the problem with each
party, individually, and coordinate a meeting of all concerned parties.
- If the problem is not resolved at this point, the Program Coordinator will
determine further action.
- Note: Early identification of problems is important as it can serve as a
preventative measure. Supervising librarian/archivist should notify the
Practicum Director if:
- Practicum Waivers
A student in the master's program who has had significant professional level
work experience in one type library or other information agency before entering
- Contact Information
If you have questions after reading this guide or need additional
information, contact the Q381 Practicum Director at the University of