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Academic Outcomes of Cooperative Education Participation

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Cooperative & Experiential Education Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.140.1 - 26.140.13



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Paper Authors


Nichole Ramirez Purdue University

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Nichole Ramirez is a graduate student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in aerospace engineering from The University of Alabama and her M.S. in aviation and aerospace management from Purdue University. She is a former recipient of the Purdue Doctoral Fellowship. In addition to cooperative education research, she is also interested in studying student choice and migration engineering and technology.

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Joyce B. Main Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Joyce B. Main is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. in Learning, Teaching, and Social Policy from Cornell University, and an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by over $14.5 million from the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received Best Paper awards from the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and 2011 and from the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011. Dr. Ohland is Chair of the IEEE Curriculum and Pedagogy Committee and an ABET Program Evaluator for ASEE. He was the 2002–2006 President of Tau Beta Pi and is a Fellow of the ASEE and IEEE.

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Academic Outcomes of Cooperative Education ParticipationOutcomes and benefits of cooperative education (co-op) participation have been welldocumented; however, they have focused primarily on grade point averages (GPA) and careeroutcomes. Previous work on predictors of participation shows no significant differences bygender in the aggregate, but there are significant differences by ethnicity and major. Women inMechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering (especially Hispanic women) persist athigher rates than men, possibly indicating that gender becomes significant in academicoutcomes. One reason students may not participate in co-op is the perception of increased time tograduation; however, other benefits may outweigh that. This research furthers the literature byexamining academic outcomes not previously considered, such as persistence in engineering andtime to graduation. The work is situated at the intersection of ethnicity/race and gender, aimingto answer the following questions: 1) what are the academic outcomes of co-op participation and2) focusing on diversity, which underrepresented groups and disciplines experience or benefit themost from co-op participation?This study uses a longitudinal database of engineering students across six institutions, includingco-op participants and non-participants. The sample includes undergraduate students fromAerospace, Chemical, Computer, Civil, Electrical, Industrial & Systems, and MechanicalEngineering majors. Propensity score analysis is a preferred method to reduce potential selectionbias in the data; therefore, it is applied in this study. Outcome variables include whether or not astudent graduated from a particular institution, persistence in engineering, and time tograduation. Results are expected to show that co-op students are more likely to graduate inengineering with higher GPAs than their non-participant counterparts, although they will takelonger to graduate. The implications of this study can be used by administrators and educators tounderstand differences in how co-op affects a diverse population of students, especially thosefrom underrepresented groups. The research will also inform co-op program policy making.

Ramirez, N., & Main, J. B., & Ohland, M. W. (2015, June), Academic Outcomes of Cooperative Education Participation Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23479

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