Field Practice for Criminology Students: Evaluation and Extending a Pilot Year

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipientGail Anderson, School of Criminology

Project team: Helene Love, School of Criminology, Kodie Glavine, research assistant

Timeframe: August 2020 to March 2021

Funding: $5000

Courses addressed

  • CRIM 485 – Professional Development - Criminal Justice Practice
  • CRIM 486 – Field Placement - Agency - Part Time
  • CRIM 487 – Field Placement - Agency - Full Time
  • CRIM 488 – Field Placement - Academic - Part Time 
  • CRIM 489 – Field Placement - Academic - Full Time

Final report: View Gail Anderson's final report (PDF) >>

Description: This project will collect information on the benefits and challenges of a community-based learning initiative. The School of Criminology recently re-structured its Field Practice courses where undergraduate students earn course credit by volunteering with criminal justice organizations while they complete directed readings under a faculty supervisor. The program provides applied learning opportunities while building career pathways for students approaching graduation. The Field Practice program is now approaching the end of its first complete year of offering the prerequisite course and having students in the field. The purpose of this grant is to evaluate its pilot year by exploring student experiences to better understand how the Field Practice program can enhance student experiential learning, in addition to assessing the impact of student engagement on the School and University’s broader strategic goals.

Questions addressed

  • What elements/goals of the SFU’s strategic plan are relevant to the field practice program?
  • In what ways, and to what extent, is the field practice program providing a community-engaged and academically rigorous opportunity to learn? 
  • What have been the expectations, challenges and benefits that the students have experienced from the field program?
  • What are the barriers that might prevent some students from participating in the program? 
  • What are the goals & perspectives of the faculty and supervisors within the field practice program? 
  • What are the perspectives of informed outsiders – past and current community partners – on the strengths and shortfalls of the field practice program?

Knowledge sharing: This report will be shared with the Director of the School of Criminology, who will use it to help inform the External Review of the School. One of the PIs is the Chair of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee, who can share these results with the Curriculum Committee as the future of the program is considered post-COVID. As mentioned above (#5) we’ve been in contact with practicum coordinators at the University of the Fraser Valley and Douglas College and will be sharing the findings with them so we can all benefit from ideas and best practices.

Findings will be presented to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee at the School of Criminology, shared on the “Research Connections” newsletter, and Criminology website and social media. Should conferences such as the teaching and learning symposium or the Canadian Association of Law Teachers conference resume in the next year, we would also welcome the opportunity to present our findings to broader audiences – either the Law and Society Annual Meeting, Western Society of Criminology Annual meeting, or American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting.

Keywords: Field Practice, Field Placement, Experiential Learning, Community Engaged Learning, Community Based Learning, Work Integrated Learning, Criminology Program