Graduate Practicum Students Opportunities

The Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab is a focal point for school-based efforts at prevention, social-emotional learning, social problem solving, violence prevention, and character education. The Lab serves as a consultant for various school districts and, in some cases, plays a very active role in fostering the development of school-wide efforts and programs targeted at specific populations, to build character using empirically-supported, evidence-based approaches.

The main practicum site is New Brunswick. The purpose of the practicum is collaborate with NB staff and other Rutgers resources to help prevent and remediate dropout, loss of student motivation, problem behaviors, and academic failure. The positive focus is on creating a respectful climate in which students and staff become genuine collaborators in a school of character and academic excellence. Practicum students join other RU undergraduate and graduate students in serving as positive role models, mentors, supports, and resources. An action-research model provides ongoing feedback in a spirit of continuous improvement.

This practicum is conceptualized as School-Community-Clinical and the relative emphasis of one's specific role can be negotiated. Among the activities involved, depending on specific sites, are: Consultation to existing school and student committees. Assisting in developing strategies and interventions for student social and academic competence, problem behaviors, perception of harassment, intimidation and bullying, and school climate. Assisting in staff and student school climate assessment and providing data review/feedback. Systematic involvement with student clubs and groups toward the goal of empowerment and giving voice. Implementation of interventions to promote school-wide and classroom social-emotional and character development; can include working with high-risk classrooms on behavioral/social skills consultation, Laws of Life values clarification. Individual and group supervision will be provided.

Students are expected to provide process notes after each school visit to share with teammates. The theoretical base of the practicum is SECD and the pedagogical structure is aligned with CBT. SECD refers to the skills, classroom and organizational structure, and curricular and program content that is important for optimizing students' potential to be caring, competent and committed individuals. A student working with the SECD Lab will have the opportunity to learn educational and psychological theory and practices related to SECD. Current SECD-related efforts in schools include school climate improvement, character education, bullying and violence prevention, substance abuse prevention, counseling and related services, social-emotional learning curriculum programs, positive behavior supports, efforts toward school-wide positive recognition of students, and service learning. These programs and practices teach children valuable social, emotional, and behavioral lessons; however, there is a lack of coordination between programs and lesson. This lack of coordination leads to many skills not being generalized into everyday life.

Again, depending on the specific site, students will have the opportunity to assist schools in creating the organizational structure to support, maintain, and coordinate SECD practices. Specialized placements linked with short-term projects include program evaluation, integration of SEL into social studies instruction, and Tier 2 SEL tech/gaming-related interventions. The Lab also is co-developing on-line certificate programs in School-Focused Coordination of Social-Emotional and Character Development, and Direct Instruction in Evidence-Based SEL and Preventive Interventions in School and Out-of-School Settings. It collaborates strongly with the College of Saint Elizabeth, United Way of Northern NJ, and the School Support Network in Northern NJ.

Specific opportunities for working with the SECD Lab will not be set until mid- late Summer. Current and recent placements include Jersey City, New Brunswick, Highland Park, and Metuchen.

If you are interested in getting involved in the practicum, please contact Dr. Elias at