University Park Campus Field Experiences in Curriculum & Instruction

Brief Description of Field Experiences

All Penn State candidates for teacher certification (PK-4, 4-8, 7-12, and P-12) are required to observe and teach in settings that include diverse populations, students with special needs, and students of different ages as an integral part of the undergraduate education major. This page provides a general overview of field experiences. Detailed specific information about the various field experiences can be found on the web page that is specific to that field experience.

General Timeline for Field Experience Courses

Early Field Experience (C I 295 and 295 A/B)

Early field experience (C I 295 and 295 A/B) occurs typically during semesters 3 or 4. Early field experience does not require a preliminary application, unless exceptions occur due to schedule conflicts.

Middle Field Experience (C I 495 A/B/C)

Middle field experience (C I 495 A/B/C) occurs typically during semesters 6 or 7. There is a separate online application for the middle-level field experiences. This information is to be submitted one year in advance of the semester for which the practicum is planned (September 30th of the previous year for fall semester and January 31 of the previous year for spring semester).

Student Teaching Practicum (C I 495D/F or E)

Student teaching practicum (C I 495D/F or E) occurs typically during semesters 7 or 8. Online applications must be submitted by the beginning of the semester one year in advance of the academic year desired for a student teaching assignment. Example: Applications are due Fall Semester 2014 (end of September) for student teaching in Fall Semester 2015; while an application for a Spring 2015 student teaching assignment must be filed by the end of January 2014.

Location, Transportation and Housing for Field Experiences

Students have the responsibility for obtaining their transportation, housing, professional attire, health and insurance verifications, and all required clearances. These issues have financial and legal ramifications for each student. Additional information is available in the Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences Office, 170 Chambers Building (814-865-1734) and on this web site. Student teaching applications must be completed and submitted online via our website.

  • The early field experience courses required for PK-4 (CI 295A) and 4-8 (CI 295B) provide teacher candidates with the opportunity to spend 60 hours in an early childhood (PK-4) or middle level setting (4-8). Placements are within walking distance of campus or on bus routes. CI 295 (7-12) asks teacher candidates to engage in 2 hours of tutoring per week as well as participate in two bus trips to visit school districts for a full day. Transportation is provided for the bus trips.
  • C I 495A, the middle field experience course required for early childhood education majors, occurs in child development centers and elementary schools within a commuting distance, (a 60 to 70 mile radius) of University Park. Students must make arrangements for their own transportation. Special housing is not required.
  • C I 495B/C, the middle field experiences for 4-8 and secondary education majors, occur in schools within commuting distance, a 60 to 70 mile radius, of University Park. Students must make arrangements for their own transportation. Special housing is not required.
  • For C I 495 D/F or E, most student teaching practica occur in schools beyond commuting distance and in various University-selected regions throughout the Commonwealth. Student teachers must arrange their own housing and daily transportation in their assigned areas. PK-4 and 4-8 majors may apply to participate in a student teaching practicum in South Dakota (Pierre Indian Learning Center). Secondary Education majors may apply to complete student teaching in South Dakota or Sweden. Short-term student teaching in international sites is available to all majors after they complete 12 weeks of student teaching in Pennsylvania.

Additional Locations  PK-4

Also available for C I 495 D/F are

  1. UTC: Isaac Sheppard Elementary Professional Development Partnership in Philadelphia. The urban teaching experience is one part of a joint Penn State/Philadelphia School District Collaborative that places Penn State elementary education majors in an inner city school for their final field experience. Elementary education teaching candidates involved in the UTC do the DI (Discipline Inquiry block during the fall or spring semester (CI 495A) and student teach at Sheppard during the following spring or fall semester (CI 495D/F).
  2. State College Professional Development School (PDS) Collaborative for Elementary Education majors. More information is available on the PDS Web Site.

Discipline Specific Locations for Secondary Majors

Discipline-specific supervision is a critical component of Penn State’s teacher education program; hence, each discipline has one or multiple primary regions for student teaching placement. Note below the specific disciplines and the current regions to which student teachers are assigned. Students should assume that they will be assigned to their primary region (s) and plan accordingly.

Primary Discipline Region(s):

  • Secondary Education English: Greater Pittsburgh and Central
  • Secondary Education Mathematics: Greater Pittsburgh
  • Secondary Education Science: Central West (Altoona)
  • Secondary Education Social Studies: Bucks County, Montgomery County or Greater Pittsburgh
  • P-12 Education World Languages: Central Region

In addition, mixed cohorts of secondary student teachers (English, Mathematics, and Social Studies) will be placed in the Central region on the basis of students' need to be placed close to the University Park campus for student teaching.

NOTE: Students should indicate two preferences for Regions on the online student teaching application, but preference indicated is no guarantee of placement in any particular region.

Orientation and Seminars for Early and Middle Level Field Experiences

C I 295 and 295 A/B and C I 495 A/B/C officially begin at the start of the semester, even though the actual field experience does not begin until several weeks into the semester. Large group orientations and small group seminars are held in the first weeks of the semester to communicate valuable information and further prepare students for their entry into schools.

Student Teaching

  • Student teaching is a full-time 15-week, 15 credit practicum/seminar block for all teacher certification programs in the College of Education.
  • Student teaching is a full-time activity. Additional course enrollments are not permitted. This includes courses described as correspondence, distance education, online, continuing education, evening or weekend courses at Penn State or other institutions. Deferred grades and correspondence courses must be completed before the start of the student teaching experience.
  • Most student teaching practica occur in schools beyond commuting distance of the University. Student teachers must, therefore, arrange their own housing and daily transportation in their assigned areas.

Assignment Process for All Field Experiences

  • The Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences (CIFE) Office procures and assigns the placement for each student. Students may not seek nor procure their own placements.
  • Students are assigned only to schools with which Penn State has prior agreements, and those to which University Park clinical faculty travel for supervision. These agreements are subject to change from semester to semester.
  • Living at one’s family home is not a primary consideration for determining assignments, including student teaching.

Required Clearances

Information on required clearances for all field experiences can be located on the Clearances section of this website.