Criminal Justice 483

CRJU 483: Criminal Justice Experiential Learning

Prerequisites:  CRJU 100; CRJU 233; CRJU 235; CRJU 238; junior or senior standing; minimum of 3.0 grade point average (overall and in criminal justice coursework); permission of instructor

Corequisite:  CRJU 484

Credit Hours: (3)

The student will complete a field experience related to criminal justice.  Students will be expected to integrate their field experiences with the body of criminal justice theory to produce a scholarly research project.  This course must be taken concurrently with CRJU-484 (Criminal Justice Internship).


Detailed Description of Course

The purpose of this course is to provide the student an opportunity to analyze a criminal justice work experience by drawing upon the body of academic criminal justice literature in the production of a scholarly project.  This creates a learning experience that allows the internship to serve as a true capstone activity, in which the student may demonstrate his or her research methods skills while integrating theoretical and practical perspectives in the examination of an issue.

The substantive content of a given student’s experience will vary based on the work site in which the student is placed.  These sites may vary considerably, but often represent one of the following types of agencies:  police, community corrections, correctional institutions, commonwealth attorney, public defender, courts, and juvenile justice.


Conduct of the Course

A student will be placed in a criminal justice work setting as part of a criminal justice internship.  Placement may occur when a participating agency agrees to provide to a student an opportunity, based on agency goals, that will create a meaningful learning experience.  Students must meet the qualifications of the participating agency, such as age, citizenship, physical conduction, dress, and conduct codes.  In addition, students must be interviewed and accepted by the participating agency. 

Agency placement will be coordinated through the criminal justice department internship coordinator, in order to balance student and agency needs.  The role of the criminal justice internship coordinator is limited to assisting a student in securing a position within an agency.  The course itself will be supervised by a faculty mentor who agrees to work with the student.  Any full-time criminal justice faculty member may serve as a mentor (each faculty mentor will be limited to supervising one student in the fall and spring semesters and three in the summer, in order to ensure an equitable workload distribution).  The role of the mentor will be to provide guidance as the student completes the major scholarly research project required of the course (see section “d” below).  Students are advised to select a faculty mentor who has expertise in the desired area of study.   

The designated agency supervisor provides on-the-job instruction and guidance and is otherwise responsible for the day-to-day structuring of the learning experience.

Students who have been working in a full-time or part-time capacity for an agency may not do an internship at that agency unless overall functions and responsibilities change.


Student Goals and Objectives

  • Students will become familiar with the inner workings of a criminal justice agency as they learn experientially in a field setting. 
  • Students will develop job-relevant skills through the tasks they complete at the agency site (i.e., verbal communication, report writing, etc.).
  • Students will use their experience in the field as the basis for compiling a scholarly research project integrating their experiences with a body of academic literature.


Assessment Measures

Students will be assessed on the basis of three criteria:

  • Reflective Journal.  Students will maintain a record of their observations.  These writings should include more than a simple recounting of the day’s activities.  It is imperative that students also include their subjective assessment of their work – such as reflections on how their tasks correspond to what they have learned in class, how they gain new perspectives on issues through their experience, and so on.  This form of analytical writing is necessary to facilitate completion of the scholarly research project (item number “3” below).
  • Regular Contact with Faculty Mentor.  Communication with the faculty mentor is of paramount importance.  Students should expect to schedule a regular, one-hour weekly meeting with the faculty mentor, to provide a regular report of the student’s progress.  This also provides time necessary to discuss the direction of the student’s research project.
  • Scholarly Research Project.  This is the capstone project of the course.  Students are expected to prepare a substantial project of a scholarly nature.  The precise requirements will be arranged between the student and faculty mentor.  However, the general idea of the project is to select a topic of interest and prepare a paper that integrates the scholarly research on the topic while also drawing upon the student’s observations and participation in the work site.  The paper should be analytical and advance a hypothesis, rather than being descriptive or reflective in nature.  Students should expect to submit an abstract for a paper topic within the first few weeks of the semester, and it is advisable that the student’s field notes (item “1,” above) be used to further address the topic and its relationship to internship experiences, outside literature, and so on.


Other Course Information

All relevant course information is contained above