“The core experience in teacher preparation is clinical practice. Content and pedagogy are woven around clinical experiences throughout preparation, in course work, in laboratory-based experiences, and in school-embedded practice” (NCATE, 2010, p. 5). At the University of Mary Washington, College of Education students engage in laboratory based experiences such as the Autism Play Lab, practicum experiences in schools and educational organizations that partner with regional schools, and internships in Virginia public elementary, middle and high schools. These clinical experiences are often described as the key teacher education components that impact long-term retention in the profession (Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 2004). Additionally, teachers who graduate from programs that include interwoven clinical experiences receive stronger evaluations from supervisors, employers, and researchers and feel more prepared to enter the classroom than other new teachers (Darling-Hammond, 2010).
Shalyn M. Lapke, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Clinical Experiences and Partnerships
College of Education
University of Mary Washington