College Fund Research

Structure and Characteristics for Successful Outcomes: A Review of Community College Internships Programs

August 15, 2019

Community and tribal colleges emphasize students’ needs as well as local job contexts. The dynamic and emerging job market present a challenge to education and preparation of traditional degree-seeking students as education rarely keep steps with skills required by employers. Internships, or work-based learning, are a way to facilitate the transition from classroom learning to practical application and skill development. Internship experiences have the potential to impact student understanding and application, a skilled workforce, and academic content. A well-designed internship program considers the interplay of structural and internship characteristics as well as internship outcomes inclusive of student outcomes, internship site outcomes, and college outcomes. This literature review aims to 1) identify the extent to which community and tribal colleges employ key internship characteristics and assess internship outcomes, 2) explore the unique characteristics and structure of community and tribal college’s internships, and 3) understand internship outcomes important to community and tribal colleges. Results of the literature review revealed little agreement about which student and other internship outcomes are most important. Additionally, there was little deliberate disclosure of internship program structure which resulted in a lack of discussion as to the integration of internship characteristics and structure of internship program on outcomes. Furthermore, limited information was provided on essential elements of internship programs that contribute to sustainability. The results of this review support the need for in-depth assessment of internship programs for the development of a best practice’s framework for community and tribal colleges.

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