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Definition, Mission, And Revitalization Of Cooperative Education Programs

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Revitalizing Cooperative Education and Engineering

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.391.1 - 11.391.10



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Paper Authors


Robert Stwalley Purdue University

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Robert M. Stwalley III, Ph.D., P.E. is the Director of Cooperative Education Programs for Purdue University. Dr. Stwalley has been involved in education for over twenty years in three different institutions of higher education. He is currently the President of the Lafayette School Corporation Board of Trustees. Dr. Stwalley maintains a private consulting practice where he specializes in renewable energy projects and property transfer issues. He is married to Dr. Carol Stwalley, and they have four children: Kathryn, Robert IV, Elizabeth, and Daniel.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Definition, Mission, and Revitalization of Cooperative Education Programs


The Purdue University Cooperative Education Program recently completed an evaluation which included reviewing programs at its peer institution group and other top ranked Cooperative Education schools. This due diligence process also included the examination of data from participating students, participating employers, non-participating employers, and qualified, but non-participating students at Purdue. Market Analysis as defined by White 1 was used as a basis to conduct the review, and those results have been presented elsewhere. This paper will cover how the information developed during the due diligence process was utilized to modify the Co-Op Program at Purdue and set the stage for its revitalization. Although over a dozen items were found to be significant, the key influencing factor for the future success of the program was determined to be the student participation rate. Potential modifications to raise the level of participation needed to be designed so that they reduced student entry barriers to the program without decreasing the academic quality of the experience. The governing committee for Cooperative Engineering Education at Purdue returned to basic key elements of the Co-Op experience to identify what factors were considered critical to the success of the program. From these elements, basic definitions of Co-Op, internship and Professional Practice emerged. It was decided that henceforth Purdue would promote Professional Practice, a term which includes both the internship and Co-Op experiences. A revised mission statement for the program was developed that incorporated the University’s strategic goals and broadened the scope of our assignment. Following the completion of the evaluation process, new programs were designed which fit the new definitions, mission statement, and student needs. This paper will discuss the compromises and adaptations required on the part of the university to develop new work experience programs. This information should be useful to other practitioners preparing to undergo a similar evaluation and revision process at their own institutions.


The current issues facing Cooperative Education are not unique to any one particular institution. Nationally, there has been a slow, but steady decline in collegiate participation in Co-Op. This trend was present in the data for Purdue, and in fact, the Purdue trend was somewhat accelerated above the national rate of decline. This was felt by the Purdue administration to be unacceptable, and a self-assessment study was undertaken to examine the situation and propose remedial changes during 2004. The study and its findings were related in an earlier paper by Stwalley 2.

The self-assessment study included a review of the current system in place at Purdue. Individual meetings were conducted with Engineering and Technology Co-Op Coordinators, Engineering Department Heads, members of the Engineering Dean’s cabinet, employer partners, non-participating potential employer partners, Co-Op students, qualified but non-participating students, national Co-Op figures, and members of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Surveys of industrial partners and students, both in the participating and non-participating categories, were conducted to get a broader view of the feelings of these groups. Several

Stwalley, R. (2006, June), Definition, Mission, And Revitalization Of Cooperative Education Programs Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--975

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