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Assessment- a Dirty Word?

July 24, 2017 3:24 pm Published by Leave your thoughts


For almost twenty years I have overseen academic internship programs. While I passionately believe in the transformational learning that comes from experiential education – specifically internships- I have sought more concrete proof for years. I want to be able to measure quantitatively and assess qualitatively – the learning outcomes from work-based learning programs.

I’d like solid “proof of value” when I look a student in the eye and say “this unpaid internship for which you are paying tuition, is a worthwhile investment in your professional future.” I fully understand that there are socio-economic challenges for many students to participate in a required academic internship – and I believe that formally assessing the learning derived from an academic internship could offset some of these challenges.

I define an academic internship as one in which the student is enrolled in a college program and earning academic credits which follows a curriculum and has defined learning objectives and evidence of outcomes. As I embark on a research project is to identify and develop effective processes to assess learning outcomes from academic internships through internal research on current assessment practices at my own institution, external research on the practices at peer institutions, a thorough review of the literature, and guidance from IT and Institutional Research practitioners – I welcome your comments, experiences, and involvement! Contact me with questions, comments, or better yet- best practices-, or

AUTHOR: Sarah Burrows, Ed.D. is the Director of Internship Programs and Associate Professor of Communication at Lasell College in Massachusetts.




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