Fieldwork Experience and Undergraduate Research
Objectives for Biological and Natural Resource Sciences majors at NAU-Yuma
Northern Arizona University-Yuma is committed to the practical education of all its science majors. To address the educational needs and ambitions of all undergraduates, our undergraduate Biological and Natural Resource Sciences majors participate in a supervised internship, field work experience, or a supervised research project. Several terms are commonly used to describe this activity such as practicum, internship, externship, cooperative education, field study, or field placement experience.
Options available for students
BSC 408 Accordion Closed
BSC 408 is an internship that combines theoretical/work experience in a non-academic setting (off-campus or on-campus) in an appropriate agency or organization. Supervision is provided for the student at the place of assignment by a designated on-site supervisor. This course is designed as supervised fieldwork.
Credits 1-12 meeting time: arranged per student. There is NO class meeting. Keep in mind that agencies and organizations would like to have a minimum of 9 hours of fieldwork per week (~ 3 credits)
The goal of BSC 408 is to prepare you to enter the field of your choice and assist you in refining and developing your professional skills. In addition, the fieldwork experience should guide you as you choose a profession after graduation. In fact, the experience may teach you that you would like a career in another capacity or in a related field, rather than that of your internship. Intrinsic to these goals is the expectation that you will receive the broadest possible experience with the organization. The fieldwork should occur early enough for you to take classes in the senior year that may be relevant or necessary for a comprehensive education appropriate for your internship field.
It is expected that the internship site provide a safe work environment for our students. This includes interns not being left alone during after hours or other potentially unsafe situations.
BSC 485 Accordion Closed
BSC 485 is an application of accepted research techniques to answer a proposed hypothesis or question within the undergraduate’s field. Supervision is provided for the student by an accredited university professor, researcher or professional in the field. This course provides NAU credit for original research you conduct under the supervision of a researcher in your field.
The goal of BSC 485 is to introduce you to the planning, implementation, and interpretation of original research in your field of your choice. The research project should assist you in refining your focus on a particular discipline or study area and on professional choices. Intrinsic to this goal is the expectation that you will receive the broadest possible experience with the cooperating faculty research supervisor, but we do recognize that the very nature of research is focused and specialized. This research should be original. Your work must be able to reasonably stand alone with a hypothesis to be tested or make a significant contribution to the project. Naturally, your supervisor may plan to use your data and your work may contribute to their larger research agenda. You may not, however, simply be a lab technician.
Credits 1-6 meeting time: arranged per student. Students will need to attend a weekly lab meeting (typically every Friday at noon).
All internship, fieldwork experience, or undergraduate research must have prior approval. You may not request credit for previous projects, life experiences, or simply working. However, with prior approval, you may combine your internship experience with work and/or receive a salary. It is a good rule of thumb to finalize plans with your fieldwork site and/or undergraduate research advisor at least 1-month before classes begin. So plan several months ahead of time to contact potential agencies or people to discuss these opportunities and to work out your objectives.
Please give potential fieldwork sites or research labs a copy of these guidelines for them to also read over and to have a hard copy of.
In those (few) cases where we think it is necessary, we talk with the student and internship/research sponsor to work out whatever problems or complications are apparent.
Learning outcomes for BSC 408 or 485 Accordion Closed
To link your academic training to a professional environment in which you construct a link between your academic training and practical application of that coursework.
Prepare for a professional career and active citizenship by engaging in a project consistent with your educational and professional goals.
Direct your personal and professional growth by integrating intellectual, professional, and personal development.
Demonstrate an overall knowledge and application of concepts related to Environmental Sciences or studies in a professional setting and/or demonstrate the ability to conduct research in a professional setting.
Accumulate professional experience with sufficient detail to utilize in the activities required by graduate schools and/or a senior capstone (e.g. BSC 435C).
Assessment methods Accordion Closed
- Evaluation and comments from site supervisors on mid-term and final evaluations and interviews
- Internship or Directed Individual Study report or portfolio scored using a rubric and progress reports
Procedure to sign up for 408/485 Accordion Closed
- Identify a potential organization that you may want to work with or meet with the internship coordinator to brainstorm possible options. The relationship between hours worked and credits received is based on a minimum of three hours per week for one semester for each internship or research credit. This translates into a minimum of 150 hours for the three credit course AND one 10 page report of at least A, B, or C letter grade quality. Fieldwork may be repeated up to a total of 12 hours with a maximum of 6 credit per semester, with NAU-Yuma science faculty approval.
- MEET WITH NAU-YUMA BIOLOGICAL AND NATURAL RESOURCE SCIENCES FACULTY (Francisco Villa) TO DETERMINE IF THE EXPERIENCE IS APPROPRIATE.
- Determine and write up your learning objectives in concert with your supervisor or science faculty mentor. To help think about what you want to gain from this experience. Here are a list of questions that can help in clarifying and determining your objectives:
- What do you expect to learn or experience during your internship?
- What is the name of the organization or researcher with whom you will work? What do they do? Who will be your supervisor/mentor guiding your experience?
- What do you want to gain from this experience? Do you want to learn new programming techniques? Do you want to develop new ways to enhance GIS resources for your workplace? Do you want to understand what is involved in publicity, educational, or fund raising efforts for a non-profit group? Do you want to learn how this particular organization implements a new policy? If a research project, what are your hypotheses and how will you test them? Use this list to develop at least three learning objectives.
Finally, list the tasks you will perform that lead to the accomplishment of each learning objective. List the contributions you will expect of your supervisor/mentor in guiding you in the performance of your tasks.
- Overall, this document will include the learning objectives, tasks, and accomplishments YOU plan to complete by the end of your Fieldwork Experience. Have the workplace supervisor OK this project with a signature on the document. All arrangements with agencies and groups for Fieldwork Experience credit must be well documented (organized, clear, and concise), reviewed and signed by the student and supervisor, and then submitted (in person or by email) to Dr. Villa for review and approval in order to be enrolled.
- A student template can be found here (BSC 408 Student Template v2) to use if your field site does not already have one available.
- Once approved Dr. Villa will facilitate your enrollment in the course.
Requirements to complete 408/485 Accordion Closed
* Work an average of 3 hours/week per credit registered.
Failure to maintain a consistent work load may result in earning a grade of ‘F’ for the term. Continually missing time in order to study for other classes without immediately making it up is unacceptable and unprofessional. Without prior approval, students are not allowed to complete a significant number of additional work hours to make up for previous underperformance.
* A mid-internship evaluation using the evaluation form.
* A final letter of reference or evaluation from your supervisor at the completion of your project.
* Weekly progress report submitted online.
Students who fail to submit 3 progress reports on time OR who miss 2 lab meetings (BSC 485) will not pass the course and will receive a grade of ‘F’ for the semester. Missing progress reports or lab meetings due to professional absences if notified in advance, or medical emergencies with documentation, will not count against you.
A 10-page paper that describes the internship. The paper should include a literature review of pertinent information. If you are guided by federal legislation or responding to legislation then cite it. If you are assessing animal or plant populations cite the literature describing the species and use organization documentation. What science supports your work? Include a description of your experience with some background on the organization and its employees (qualifications, education, experience), and an analysis of the experience and recommendations for other interns.
A portfolio presentation that will document your accomplishments and supply information for prospective employers.
The paper and the portfolio presentation, whichever you choose to do, will need to be turned into Dr. Villa no later than the last day of classes unless otherwise specified. Changes to this date need to be requested ahead of time and be approved by Dr. Villa.
Note: Each student is required to read and comply with NAU policies.
Financial reimbursement Accordion Closed
The primary reason for participating in an internship/research project is to apply academic knowledge in a practical setting. It is recognized that in certain situations, students will be paid. In such situations, the contract for academic credit is between the student and the department; the contract for work and compensation is between the student and the work site. Regardless of whether the student receives compensation, the student is not considered an employee of either NAU or the experience site by virtue of the internship agreement alone. Students seeking academic credit while working in an existing place of employment should demonstrate that their activity goes beyond that required in the regular requirements for the job, documented in the student contract.
Supervision and grading Accordion Closed
All students must identify a faculty member or field-related professional who will agree to supervise their internship, and who will coordinate work site and academic components of the internship with the NAU-Yuma science faculty. The coordinator may periodically conduct on-site visits and/or telephone contact with work site supervisors. Since academic credit is awarded for internship experience, the supervising faculty member will review the supervisor’s evaluation, the student journal, and a final written report (approximately 10 pages in length and at least a “C” quality paper) or portfolio. The course grade is based on both the work experience and the written component related to the work; grading in fieldwork is pass/fail.
Student documentation Accordion Closed
The student is responsible for obtaining written approval from the supervisor and NAU-Yuma faculty before starting the experience.
The student and the work site coordinator will develop a plan for the work to be carried out as part of the internship, including specific goals for the experience. The student is responsible for keeping a record that details the date and time spent at the work site in order to fulfill the necessary credit requirements (i.e. weekly progress report submitted online).
The NAU-Yuma science faculty member is Francisco Villa.
Workplace requirements Accordion Closed
In general, students enrolled in an internship must meet the same workplace requirements as employees as long as these are legal requirements. The internship coordinator will work with the student, the supervising faculty member, or the work site supervisor whenever there are questions of policy or responsibilities associated with the internship.