June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Cooperative & Experiential Education
14.42.1 - 14.42.20
A Learning Outcomes Survey of Engineering Cooperative Education Students: Preliminary Findings Introduction
Since the inception of cooperative education at the University of Windsor, the work terms have been structured as four-month work terms (one semester), alternating with academic terms throughout the undergraduate degree program per guidelines provided by the Canadian Association for Cooperative Education Programs1. At the University of Windsor, a minimum of three work terms satisfy the requirement for an undergraduate engineering degree with a co-op designation. Increasingly, there have been requests by industry to have students complete consecutive or extended work terms of eight months or more to fully utilize trained students, minimizing workforce turnover and in turn generate their own pool of experienced candidates for full time employment after graduation. In general, the extended work terms are viewed by students as an opportunity to fully explore the profession and industry in which the positions are offered, to increase their involvement in more complex assignments, and to establish a network of contacts in a company where they may consider seeking future work term placements or full time employment following graduation.
The University of Windsor has recently established formal learning outcomes for the co-op program and implemented new educational strategies to support the achievement of those outcomes2, 3. A survey was recently administered to graduates and senior students of the cooperative engineering program at the University of Windsor (the control group) to assess their perceptions of the effect that co-op had on the following: their academic and career-related goals and motivation; identification of personal strengths, weaknesses and preferences; understanding of academic theory and technical knowledge; development of attributes; and the ability to effectively contribute in the workplace through identified complementary industry-related skills. The control group responses with respect to learning outcomes, activities and assessment methods that were implemented in the program following their participation in co-op were also analyzed. The second phase of the survey, the administration of the same survey to the group of students participating in the revised program (the experimental group), is taking place during the current academic year.
The survey’s demographic section incorporated questions about the length of the work term that the respondents completed in order to address the research question about the effect of longer term placements on student perception of co-op as it relates to the skills identified. While the majority of students in the control group indicated that their participation in co-op did result in achievement of the identified outcomes, preliminary analysis of the control group responses suggests that, at least subjectively, the benefits of the extended work term exceed those of the traditional shorter work term on many of the outcomes.
For over 100 years, cooperative education and internship programs have been an option for post- secondary education with the premise of assisting students’ transition from school to workplace. These programs have been defined as structured educational strategies integrating academic
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015