Applied Practicum

Applied Practicum in Human Development and Family Sciences

Students who opt to take the applied practicum are placed at a site that serves children and/or families. Students, under the supervision of a trained professional, have direct contact with clients, and are exposed to a wide variety of professional skills, including client interaction, awareness of individual needs, communication, planning, family dynamics, teaching, assessments, and group processes, that relate to future careers and advanced degrees.

Students opting to take an applied practicum with HDFS have two options, HDF 352 and 352L, a 10-hour a week practicum, or HDF 652F or 652P, a 20 hour a week practicum. HDF 352 and 652F are placements that occur in the community, and 352L and 352P are placements that occur in a classroom setting, usually the University of Texas Priscilla P. Flawn Child and Family Laboratory.

Past practicum experiences have included classroom, medical, ECI, Child Life, children who are abused, at-risk, or have special needs, and sites that deal with parenting and educational issues. Students do not have to know where they want to be placed at the time of application. The University Supervisor works closely with the student and the various site supervisors to ensure a good fit.
At all sites, students are supervised closely by a site supervisor, receiving feedback and evaluations. All site supervisors have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, while the majority have their Master’s degree. Students start at their site in an observational role, and as the site supervisor feels they are capable and ready, the student takes on more responsibility.

Course Requirements

Students who take HDF 652F and 652P must have completed most of their coursework, and it is usually taken the student’s last semester, with the exception of summer school (HDF 652F, 652P, 352L or 352 do not meet in the summer). HDF 366 is a required prerequisite for many of the applied practicums. It is recommended that students take no more than one other class at the time of HDF 652F or 652P, as it is a professional placement and students need to be able to devote their emotional time and energy to their site. Insurance and financial aid waver documents are provided for the student, if needed. HDF 352L and 352 can be taken at various points in the student’s education track, but is usually taken toward the end of the student’s college career. It is strongly recommended that student take a lighter load their 352L or 352 semester, and admission is denied if students take over 12 hours.

Students apply for the following fall semester by December 1, and for the following spring semester by May 1. This allows the University Supervisor to look over the student’s application and to be able to recommend appropriate courses or volunteer opportunities that will benefit the student. Application is not a guarantee of acceptance, nor does it mean that a student is committed and cannot change their mind. For an application, contact the university supervisor or the Human Ecology Undergraduate Advising Center. ¬†Click here for Practicum FAQs

Descriptions of Various Research Sites
(This list is not complete, but is a sampling of possibilities)

Each placement site is unique, and sites can be tailored for an individual student’s needs, such as a pre-med student working in a clinic or shadowing a doctor. An additional one-hour weekly seminar is held at UT with the University Supervisor.

UT Child and Family Lab School – Students are placed in lab school classroom, under the supervision of a Master Teacher. Hours will be arranged. The last six weeks of the semester, students are head teaching, with all responsibilities and duties. Students gain experience in planning, implementing, and evaluating developmentally appropriate activities for individual and group needs, assessments, parent conferences, field trips, classroom management, guidance skills and techniques, interacting with parents, and classroom set-up. HDF 366 is a prerequisite for any placements at the UT Flawn Lab School. Designed for majors who are in the Early Childhood option.

ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) – ECI focuses on children aged 0-3 who are deemed not at age level. Ranges of delays are severe to mild. ECI has a very strong focus on the family. Students work directly with a variety of professionals, including nutritionists, physical therapists, speech therapists, teachers, Early Intervention Specialists (EIS), and social workers. All visits take place in the child’s home or child’s day care center. Students gain experience in learning about disabilities, a variety of professional disciplines, how to teach through play, planning for an individual child’s and family’s needs, working directly with parents, and writing up progress notes. Students MUST take Introduction to Early Childhood Intervention (HDF 378K, SED 378T, or PSY 341K) and HDF 366 to be considered for this placement. Hours are between 8:00am-6:00pm M-F. Suitable for human or family track students.

Child Life – The focus of child life is to reduce stress and educate children and families who are in a hospital setting. The practicum takes place at Children’s Hospital of Austin (CHOA). The student rotates shadowing the Child Life Specialists (CLS), sets up the play room, completes census, and observes medical play, distraction techniques, and pre-surgery and pre-procedure education with the patient, siblings, and family. After the practicum, if the student is still interested in pursuing child life, the student must complete a 480 – 500 internship at a different children’s hospital (at this time, CHOA does not have an internship program). To be placed in child life at CHOA, a student must volunteer for a minimum of one semester before the practicum. Volunteer contact is Peggy Budd at 324-8679, or email her at CHOA placements are at the discretion of the Child Life Director and are reserved for students who are committed to the child life field. Hours vary, as each CLS’s rotation differs. Suitable for human track majors.

Allied Health – For students who are planning an advanced degree in the medical field (occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician’s assistant, nursing, pharmacy, physician, etc) placement can occur at a site specific to your advanced degree. Students can be placed in clinics and/or hospitals where they room patients, take medical histories, observe surgeries and deliveries, shadow doctors and/or nurses, and assist with exams. There are several sites in Austin that deal with different kinds of therapy and different levels of patient abilities, where students can work with PT’s and OT’s, having direct patient contact. Hours vary depending on the site.

For information on health professions, contact the Health Professions Office.

Other – Several other sites have been utilized, based on individual student career paths. These include, but are not limited to:

  • SafePlace
  • Parents As Teachers
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Helping Hand Home for Children
  • Office of the Attorney General, Child Support Division
  • Community in Schools
  • Austin Children’s Museum
  • Austin Children’s Shelter
  • Center for Child Protection
  • Avance