June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Cooperative & Experiential Education
15.836.1 - 15.836.16
Learning Outcomes Achievement in Cooperative Education: A Survey of Engineering Students
In 2007, the University of Windsor established formal learning outcomes for their cooperative education program and implemented new educational strategies to support the achievement of those outcomes. To gauge the effect of the newly implemented activities on the achievement of the learning outcomes, a survey was developed and administered to students and alumni of the unrevised program (control group) and, more recently in 2009, to students participating in the revised program (experimental group). The survey questions were designed to assess respondents’ perceptions of the effect that co-op had on: 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 soft and transferable industry-related skills.
Students participating in co-op at the University of Windsor may complete regular or extended length work terms. Regular work terms are generally four-months in length, while extended work terms are at least eight months long, although many companies request co-op students for twelve to sixteen month periods. The survey demographics included a question about work term duration, so that the effects of work term length on learning outcomes achievement might also be examined. Although the survey revealed some positive trends related to learning outcomes achievement for control versus experimental groups, they were not at statistically significant levels. However, if the analysis was limited to students who had completed extended work terms, three areas showed changes at statistically significant levels. Decreases in positive response levels were seen for the experimental group with respect to students’ abilities to identify personal weaknesses related to their academic options and personal preferences related to workplace options. An increase in positive response level was found with regard to their understanding of theories taught in the classroom.
As noted by Haddara and Skanes1, the first American cooperative education program was in engineering and started in 1906 at the University of Cincinnati with an enrolment of 27 students. It is believed that this program was in part inspired by the sandwich programs which may have existed in the UK since 18402. The first cooperative education program in Canada started in 1957 at what was to be known as the University of Waterloo. It had an enrolment of 75 students and was also in engineering.1 The programs at Cincinnati and Waterloo expanded very quickly and proved to be very successful. Cooperative engineering programs were implemented at other institutions and cooperative education programs in disciplines other than engineering started to appear. At the beginning of 2010, cooperative education programs exist in 80 post-secondary institutions in Canada with an enrolment of over 80,000 students.3 It is interesting to compare the experience in North America with that in Japan where cooperative education was not introduced until the 1990’s and then initially at the graduate, rather than undergraduate, level.4
Johrendt, J., & Hector, S., & Benzinger, K., & Salinitri, G., & Jaekel, A., & Northwood, D., & Watters, M. (2010, June), Learning Outcomes Achievement In Cooperative Education: A Survey Of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16581
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