Behavioural Science Practicum Policy
All students in the Behavioural Science Concentration and Major at Ambrose University are required to complete a practicum. The purpose of this policy is to detail:
- entrance requirements and preparations for students to enrol in BHS 320 Field Practicum 1 and BHS 420 Field Practicum 2;
- expected professional conduct for students during their practicum; and
- circumstances that could warrant removing a student from practicum;
Practicum Entrance Requirements and Preparations
Unless the Department grants permission in rare circumstances, students who wish to complete BHS 320 or BHS 420 must first meet the following minimum requirements by the noted deadlines. With the exception of the final step (Learning Goals), students can only register for BHS 320 once all of these steps are completed.
- Completed BHS 240 Research Methods
- CGPA of not less than 2.0 (confirmed by Social Sciences Program Coordinator following Winter semester, prior to students registering for the course);
- Criminal record check, vulnerable sector search, and child intervention record check (if working with minors) (applications due May 30 … actual checks due August 1). The student is responsible for the cost of obtaining such documentation. Social Sciences Program Coordinator will receive these checks.
- Note that a practicum placement may be denied to students who are unable to provide these checks. In this event, the student will be unable to complete the degree and thus will be required to withdraw from both the practicum course and the program. Students may explore transferring their credits to another program should they wish.
- If something is flagged in the background checks, students are required to either withdraw their practicum application in more extreme circumstances (e.g., abuse of vulnerable individuals) (and thus switch programs) or, with department permission, disclose the details of the background checks to the practicum agency who will decide if they are willing or not to proceed with the placement. If a practicum agency declines to work with a practicum student in these circumstances, students may seek out a different practicum agency under the terms noted in the previous sentence, until a practicum site is secured.
In preparation for BHS 320, students are required to complete the following steps and associated timelines prior to July 1, two months before formally beginning their practicum. Failure to do so may mean that students are denied entrance into a practicum placement in a given year.
- Attend a two-part workshop (approximately 90 minutes each) related to “Self-Awareness, Self-Care, and Work Competency” (typically offered in January)
- Resumé (January 31) – submitted to the Social Sciences Program Coordinator
- Recommended (not required) LinkedIn Profile and Update (January 31)– submitted to the Social Sciences Program Coordinator
- Attend Practicum overview workshop (late January or early February)
- Attend Social Sciences Career and Practicum Fair (mid-February)
- Meet with Social Sciences Program Coordinator to determine potential practicum sites (February 28)
- Three interviews with possible practicum agencies (May 15), with Fall placement confirmed upon discussion and verbal approval of practicum site choice from the Social Sciences Program Coordinator and course instructor (May 30). Even if a practicum placement is secured with fewer than three interviews, all three interviews must be completed.
- Following the interview stage, students are expected to follow up with each agency to thank them for their time, and if a practicum offer is extended to a student, to convey the decision to accept or reject that offer.
- Confirm Fall placement upon discussion and verbal approval of practicum site choice from the Social Sciences Program Coordinator and course instructor, and then submit all paperwork (including proposal form with signature from practicum site, student contract, and applications background checks) (May 30)
- Applications for criminal record check, vulnerable sector search, and child intervention record check (if working with minors) (May 30)
- Criminal record check, vulnerable sector search, and child intervention record check (if working with minors) completed and received (August 1)
- Learning Goals (September 1) – co-created and agreed upon between the supervisor and student
Though students are able to complete their practicum in two separate locations in the Fall and Winter semesters, this is the exception and not the norm. In very rare cases, students might encounter a scenario where they may wish/need to break a contract with an agency (e.g., signed on for the full 8th months, but decided in October or November to shift to a new practicum agency for the Winter semester). In these circumstances, students should first discuss the scenario with the course instructor and Social Sciences Program Coordinator, and if deemed appropriate to make a change by these parties, the student should then speak to their practicum supervisor and make related arrangements no later than November 15.
Professional Conduct during Practicum
Professional conduct among students in practicum is of utmost importance. Students represent Ambrose University, the Behavioural Science program, the practicum agency, as well as themselves in job preparation and possible future job prospects. All practicum students are expected to follow these areas of professional conduct in all practicum contexts. There are no exceptions.
- Initiative and Responsibility – students should show maximum effort in all practicum tasks, taking responsibility for their own learning and having an active role in the practicum setting.
- Respect the Agency – students should always uphold professional attire, language, attitudes, and behaviours in the practicum setting. This includes respecting and adhering to the policies of the agency; asking questions and requesting help with unsure about policies, procedures, and expectations; maintaining attendance and punctuality (notifying the site supervisor and Social Sciences Program Coordinator of all expected absences); respecting all clients, colleagues, and supervisors; managing time effectively; and seeking and accepting feedback from the site supervisor and the Social Sciences Program Coordinator.
- Dual relationships – to protect clear personal and professional boundaries, students cannot complete their practicum in an agency where family members, friends, or romantic partners are employed or are clients. In addition, students are prohibited from attending off-site social events during practicum (i.e. staff party at a restaurant or private home).
- Sharing Personal, Identifying Information – to protect clear personal and professional boundaries, unless approved by the practicum setting/program, students should not share personal, identifying information with clients, including but not limited to phone number, personal social media accounts, address, workplace, church, etc.
- Cell phones – students should not use their cell phones while on site at practicum.
- Substance use – students cannot be under the influence or using alcohol or recreational drugs at practicum
- Driving – clients cannot be driven by practicum students, nor can students drive a practicum agency staff member (however practicum agency staff members can drive a student to a practicum event).
- Ethics – students must function as an ethical and competent practitioner. This includes working in areas of training and not overstating their abilities/training as higher than they are; clearly identifying as a practicum student in all professional activities related to the practicum; keeping accurate and reliable records if or as needed by the practicum agency; monitoring personal emotional and physical well-being, and notifying the agency supervisor and instructor should any conditions arise that might adversely affect the student’s ability to serve their client or practicum agency; and maintaining the confidentiality of their clients and peers within the practicum class except in the case of legal requirements to breach ethics for the safety of others, or in accordance with practicum site policies. Part of being an ethical practitioner also entails caring for one’s own wellbeing during practicum. Services are available through Ambrose (e.g., counselling, crisis support, peer health educators, online support) as well as through many external organizations. Students are strongly encouraged to reach out to the Ambrose Student Life Office for assistance and guidance if/as appropriate.
- Health and safety – students must abide by all health and safety policies of the practicum site, including those related to COVID-19 (e.g., vaccine and/or masking requirements), if or where applicable.
Grounds for Practicum Termination
In extreme circumstances, students may be asked by the practicum agency, course instructor, and/or the Department Chair to terminate their practicum placement. Depending on the circumstance, this termination may mark the end of a student’s time in the Behavioural Science program (and thus would need to transfer to another program), or a deferral on practicum completion to the following year (or later). Below are the conditions that would warrant a student being asked to terminate their practicum placement:
- the student has violated any part of the professional conduct standards, outlined in the section above;
- the student is unable to carry out the responsibilities of that practicum;
- the student has jeopardized client safety at the practicum agency; or
- the student has failed to maintain coursework requirements (e.g., class attendance, participation, assignments) associated with the practicum course.
Students whose practicum placements have been terminated will be informed of the reasons in writing, plus will meet with the Department Chair and Social Sciences Practicum Coordinator to explore next steps to possibly re-take the Practicum course at a later point or transfer into another program. If plans are to re-take the Practicum course at a later point, a student will be required to formulate and act upon a clear set of measurable activities and goals customized to the student/situation in play (e.g., closer work with the Student Academic Success Office, counselling), as deemed appropriate by the Chair and Practicum Coordinator in consultation with the student.
If a circumstance arises where a student believes a practicum site has unfairly dismissed them, the Department Chair and Social Sciences Program Coordinator will convene to assess the situation and determine next steps, if any. There is no appeal process for a terminated Practicum.