Advanced Internship: A High-Impact, Low-Cost, Super-Capstone Course

Feb. 10, 2013

Source: College Teaching, Volume 61, Issue 1, 2013, p. 3-10.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article describe a high-impact, low-cost, super-capstone course.
The course is high-impact because graduating seniors regularly evaluate the course as being one of the most valuable of their college experience.
It is low-cost because it requires minimal faculty resources, and super-capstone because it caps a capstone course.
The authors were interested in demonstrating the function of instructional principles and underscore the importance of these principles for any super-capstone course.

The participants were 15 students enrolled in Advanced Internship during spring semester 2010.
Data were collected through qualitative analysis of statements taken from the midterm and final papers of the students and from their written responses to the inventory administered at the end of the semester.


The authors described four instructional principles, which are central to humanistic education. They can be implemented in various ways and degrees in a wide variety of courses and disciplines, in large lecture classes and small seminars, and in many other teaching/learning circumstances as well.

The first principle was student-centered learning.
The primary advantage of this principle has to do with motivation and responsibility.
In deciding upon their learning goals, activities to achieve these goals, and how the weekly seminar is to be conducted, students become strongly committed to and invested in positive learning outcomes, more so than is the case when course goals, learning activities and class meetings are determined by the instructor.

The second principle was affective and experiential learning.
Experiential learning requires an exposure to concrete experiences, but also grasping experience requires concrete experience and abstract conceptualization.
Additionally, transforming experience requires reflective observation and active experimentation.
Thus, students are asked to take on the hefty responsibility of defining the subject matter of the course.
They are also asked to observe and reflect upon their concrete experiences.
These reflections are then conceptualized into intellectual frameworks when they write their papers for the course.
Most importantly, students’ intellectual and emotional conclusions are tested through active experimentation.

The third principle is empathic listening.
The authors emphasized the importance of empathic listening as an essential interpersonal skill—in counseling, in any career in human services, and in intimate and not-so-intimate relationships as well.

The findings reveal that all advanced interns commented about the importance of the empathic listening and support they received from their peers.
Indeed, most of them indicated that the empathic support they received was what contributed most to their learning.
On this basis, the authors conclude that advanced interns’ capacities for listening empathically determine in large measure the success or lack of success of each weekly seminar.
The final principle was collaborative learning and sharing.
A main theme of the internship course concerns the importance of collegial support in the workplace. We underscore this theme for working in human services, especially when the work involves difficult-to-serve groups or individuals.
Collaborative learning and sharing, a fundamental principle and practice in humanistic education, forms the basis for such support.



The authors conclude that with the instructor seldom present at the weekly seminars, advanced interns take greater responsibility for their learning and the conduct of the seminar. This responsibility involves learning to discuss and negotiate with one another their various differences on how the seminar should be conducted, who serves as the monitor, and what issues and topics should be addressed.
This is a most important learning skill for their eventual success, or lack of success, in the workplace.
Another aspect of taking greater responsibility involves seeking assistance and support not from the instructor, but from their seminar peers.
Providing and seeking peer support is an extremely valuable, perhaps even essential, skill in the workplace.
The importance of this skill and how to cultivate it is a most important bridging experience, especially in settings where peer interaction is a significant adjunct to traditional supervisory models.

Updated: Apr. 14, 2015