FAQs: Applied Practice Experiences

The Council clarified the limited use of university-based sites in Criterion D5. A faculty-supervised lab setting would not be appropriate for the applied practice experience. Schools are no longer required to offer MPH degrees in specific concentration areas, so if a school wishes to convert the environmental health degree (based on this example) to an MS, there is no requirement for external applied practice experiences.

Students must demonstrate attainment of at least five competencies, of which three must be foundational competencies, in the applied practice experience. Assessment of student’s competency attainment is through a portfolio approach that includes at least two products. The requirement of two products is a floor rather than a ceiling, and it may in fact take more products for students to demonstrate competencies. The competencies are mapped to products produced from the applied practice experience(s), but each product does not have to necessarily map to all competencies. For example, one product (eg, a written assignment) may demonstrate three competencies and the second product (eg, a video presentation) may demonstrate the other two competencies. As another example, students may include five products in their portfolio if each one demonstrates a competency. Competencies and products may differ from student to student.

While students may complete experiences as individuals or as groups in a structured experience, each student must present documentation demonstrating individual competency attainment. The same product may be used for multiple students if individual competency attainment is demonstrated and assessed.

The expectation is that the portfolio assessment looks at each identified competency and takes into account the specific theories and practices in which the student was prepared on the competency. The  assessment is not intended to be a generalized judgment on the quality of the work product but is intended to verify the extent to which the work product shows that the student can perform the competency. Preceptors are not typically expected to maintain the necessary level of familiarity with pedagogical methods for defining and assessing competencies. Preceptors may play an important role in assessing students’ products for quality, usefulness, etc., but a skilled assessor (typically a faculty member) must examine the work products in order to determine whether the work product demonstrates attainment of the designated competency.