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Using Lab Coaches to Assist in Teaching Crisis Intervention Skills to Undergraduate Human Service Students

Kristi Kanel

California State University, Fullerton

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Introduction

To prepare undergraduate students majoring in Human Services to provide crisis intervention in community agencies, the Human Service Department at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) began using undergraduate students to assist the instructor in teaching crisis intervention skills to their peers while reinforcing their own skills. This article presents a model that relies on role-playing and other experiential processes to teach skills that help students manage real-life professional situations. Small lab groups are the forum for such activities. Undergraduate students who have demonstrated proficiency in the desired skills are the assistants who create an intensive learning experience for the students enrolled in the class. This process both raises the lab group coach's skill level and allows for more individualized instruction of students, including the immediate feedback that is essential for the development of crisis intervention skills.

Although it is not unusual to utilize graduate students as teaching assistants, using undergraduates in this capacity may seem inappropriate to some professors. The author proposes that this pedagogical approach benefits the students in the class, the instructor, and the lab coaches themselves. This conclusion is based on sixteen years of favorable feedback from students and lab coaches who have participated in this practice. This teaching method also may be beneficial in teaching skills other than counseling skills.

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Posted February 8, 2002

All material appearing in this journal is subject to applicable copyright laws.
Publication in this journal in no way indicates the endorsement of the content by the California State University, the Institute for Teaching and Learning, or the Exchanges Editorial Board.
©2002 by Kristi Kanel.

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