Definitions & Assessments

Internships Undergraduate Research Service-Learning Critical Reflection


Internships are defined as "typically one-time work or service experiences related to the student’s major or career goal. The internship plan generally involves students working in professional settings under the supervision and monitoring of practicing professionals. Internships can be paid or unpaid and the student may or may not receive academic credit for performing the internship".1 Furthermore, "if the internship is taken for course credit, students complete a project or paper that is approved by a faculty member".2 

Cooperative Education (Co-op) is defined as providing "students with multiple periods of work in which the work is related to the student’s major or career goal. The typical program plan is for students to alternate terms of full-time classroom study with terms of full-time, discipline related employment. Since program participation involves multiple work terms, the typical participant will work three or four work terms, thus gaining a year or more of career related work experience before graduation. Virtually all co-op positions are paid and the vast majority involve some form of academic credit".3

Clinical or Field Experiences are defined as "experiences are designed to provide opportunities for KSU teacher preparation candidates to learn to become effective teachers through observations and practice in the public school setting. These experiences should augment the knowledge, skills, and dispositions gained in the university classroom".4 Field & clinical experiences can be applicable for any students participating in program-led field-based work.

Characteristics of a HIP Internship & Co-op Experience

In alignment with NACE, all the following criteria must be met:

  1. The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  5. There is an assignment in which students reflect on their experience.
  6. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  7. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  8. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning


Internship & Co-op Education Definitions (PDF) Internship & Co-op Taxonomy (PDF)


Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research is defined as courses that "connect key concepts and questions with students’ early and active involvement in systematic investigation and research. The goal is to involve students with actively contested questions, empirical observation, cutting-edge technologies, and the sense of excitement that comes from working to answer important questions".1 KSU defines undergraduate research, more specifically, as "a mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge".2 In other words, the students participate in co-creating knowledge in the discipline, and their scholarship has the potential to make a contribution to the field by being disseminated to the academic community.

Characteristics of an Engaged Learning Undergraduate Research Experience

  1. The research is supervised by a faculty member who has the necessary skill set to effectively mentor research projects in the course.
  2. The research projects meet the ethical guidelines for responsible conduct of research. Projects involving animal or human subjects must undergo IRB approval, and the faculty member and students are (or will be) certified through the appropriate CITI training. For more information, visit the Office of Undergraduate Research's website.
  3. The undergraduate research experience is appropriately scaffolded. In other words, students have learned foundational information in previous courses or research experiences (for example, research design in the discipline, statistics, lab techniques, and scientific vocabulary). If they have not, there is a plan regarding how to develop these skills in the context of the course.
  4. The syllabus contains a list of measurable learning outcomes geared toward undergraduate research in this discipline. A possible list of outcomes can be found on the Office of Undergraduate Research's website. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and it is unlikely that all of these would be appropriate for
    any given research project.
  5. The syllabus contains an assignment in which students reflect on their undergraduate research experiences. More information on reflection can be found in the Critical Reflection section of this website.
  6. There are frequent opportunities for students to receive feedback (by peers and/or the instructor) at different phases of the research.
  7. If the undergraduate research is a group, rather than individual, project, then the project is structured according to best practices for collaborative projects.
  8. The research projects have the potential to make an original contribution to the literature in this discipline.
  9. There is a tangible product at the end of the experience (i.e., paper, poster, oral presentation, and other products). There is a plan to disseminate this product publicly (i.e., peer-reviewed publication, presentation at a professional conference or on-campus symposia). It is possible that the dissemination will occur the following semester. This may preclude some students from participating. However, all students should have the opportunity for presenting or publishing their undergraduate research work


Undergraduate Research Definitions (PDF) Undergraduate Research Taxonomy (PDF)



Service-Learning is a common pedagogical strategy used to operationalize community-based learning in curricular programs. According to the AACU, "In these programs, field-based 'experiential learning' with community partners is an instructional strategy—and often a required part of the course. The idea is to give students direct experience with issues they are studying in the curriculum and with ongoing efforts to analyze and solve problems in the community. A key element in these programs is the opportunity students have to both apply what they are learning in real-world settings and reflect in a classroom setting on their service experiences. These programs model the idea that giving something back to the community is an important college outcome, and that working with community partners is good preparation for citizenship, work, and life".

In essence, service-learning is an intentional and collaborative pedagogical practice that engages students in structured service to address an identified community need and help them "gain further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility" (Bringle & Hatcher, 1996, p.112).

Characteristics of an Engaged Service-Learning Experience

Service-learning goes above and beyond community service and volunteerism. While those activities are an important part of community-based learning, service-learning differs in several ways. More specifically, service-learning:

  1. Is academically integrated —service is part of the coursework, not an unrelated "add on" requirement.
  2. Is purposefully designed with service projects that focus on community needs AND academic outcomes; the service activities address specific community needs related to the learning objectives of the course.
  3. Uses classroom and project experiences that build upon themselves and on the accumulation of classroom knowledge.
  4. Includes an evaluation of student work based on the learning gained from their service experience, not on the number of hours served.
  5. Connects the student to a structured reflection process (minimally, after the service project; ideally, before, during, and after the service project).
  6. Includes a service-learning activity which values community partner’s knowledge and experience. When best practiced, involves community partners in the planning of the course and service project.
  7. Is based on a collaborative and a reciprocal relationship among faculty, students, and community partners; projects are typically real-world challenges that students, community partners, and faculty attempt to overcome together. (Adapted from Coastal College of Georgia)


Service-Learning Definitions (PDF) Service-Learning Taxonomy (PDF)


Critical Reflection 

Reflection is a process whereby students make meaning of their experiences. Engaging in reflection has numerous benefits for students, such as increasing their confidence, self-awareness, and ability to make connections across disciplines or between coursework and personal experiences (e.g., Weber & Myrick, 2018).

Although reflection is less common in undergraduate research than other high-impact educational practices, like service learning, there is emerging research to suggest that reflective activity helps students process their research experiences more fully and generate new meanings regarding their work. Structured reflection helps students recognize the skills they are developing in the research experience, improving metacognition. In addition, undergraduate researchers report that self-reflection helps them in their applications for post-graduate work (e.g., Nye et al., 2016; Picardo & Sabourin, 2018; Wilson et al., 2016).

The critical reflection assignment is designed to measure four student learning outcomes:

  1. Educational Value: Students will cite meaningful and valuable connections of their HIP experiences to their overall educational preparation.
  2. Connectedness Insights: Students will gain new insights on the connectedness and integration of the academic preparation of their disciplines of study to the applied settings of their HIP experiences.
  3. Integrated Problem-Solving: Students will build upon prior knowledge and experiences to respond effectively to the new and challenging demands of the HIP settings.
  4. Values Growth: Students will demonstrate growth in professional and personal core values and sense of self as a result of their HIP experiences.

Faculty are encouraged to develop their own guided prompts that are tailored to their individual courses. The critical reflection rubric should not constrain faculty in the building of any reflection assignments in their courses. The goal of IAE is to provide meaningful experiences for all of our students and ensure students learn as much as possible within our courses. Critical reflection is one aspect that ensures our courses accomplishe those goals. Thus, each faculty member should tailor their guided prompts to ensure that student responses cover the student learning outcomes within the course while, at the same time, ensure that it also embodies the student learning outcomes of IAE. Critical reflection involves many components, as outlined in the literature, and the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) spends time talking about all of those aspects in their workshops. For more information on CETL workshops, visit their faculty development related to IAE website.

Comprehensive Assessment Plan (PDF) IAE Assessment Tools (PDF) Critical Reflection Rubric (PDF)