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Board 132: Documenting Student Perspectives of Learning While on Co-op

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Student Division Poster Session

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Katherine M Ehlert Clemson University

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Katherine M. Ehlert is a doctoral student in the Engineering and Science Education department in the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences at Clemson University. She earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and her MS in Mechanical Engineering focusing on Biomechanics from Cornell University. Prior to her enrollment at Clemson, Katherine worked as a Biomedical Engineering consultant in Philadelphia, PA. Her research interests include identity development through research experiences for engineering students, student pathways to engineering degree completion, and documenting the influence of co-op experiences on academic performance.

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Marisa K. Orr Clemson University Orcid 16x16

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Marisa K. Orr is an Assistant Professor in Engineering and Science Education with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. Her research interests include student persistence and pathways in engineering, gender equity, diversity, and academic policy. Dr. Orr is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award for her research entitled, “Empowering Students to be Adaptive Decision-Makers.”

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Calls for improved educational practices within the field of engineering are focusing around content delivery and not expansion of the content itself. Many educators argue that authentic engineering tasks and prepare students for engineering in the 21st century. Co-operative education (co-op) can provide such experiences. Studies have shown that students who have participated in co-op programs typically graduate with higher GPAs, have an easier time transitioning into full-time work, and begin working at higher starting salaries. Although there are many documented benefits to co-op experiences, there is little documented on the ways in which co-op provides these benefits. The purpose of this embedded mixed-methods study is to document what students perceive they are learning while on co-op. This will be done using a method that was developed in educational psychology but is relatively unknown in the field of engineering education research: The Q-methodology. The Q-methodology is a quantitative analysis approach that is intended to systematically measure and document perspectives or viewpoints. Twenty-five students will first sort a set of statements related to learning (on co-op or in school) and then be interviewed to better understand their perspective. Data will be analyzed by grouping participants based first on the results from the Q-methodology and then based on a qualitative analysis of the interviews. I will compare these grouping techniques, resolve any differences, and create descriptive profiles for each finalized group. This process will allow me to identify student-driven language centered around learning in co-ops, which can help researchers build better instruments that measure aspects of learning on co-op or other experiential learning opportunities. This will also help co-op administrators and advisers provide students better perspectives of the ways in which they can learn while participating in co-op. Lastly, this research can help industry partners reflect on their own co-op program and make changes to their recruitment/interview practices to better align with their program goals.

Ehlert, K. M., & Orr, M. K. (2019, June), Board 132: Documenting Student Perspectives of Learning While on Co-op Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32237

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