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Student Perceptions of Connections between Statics Class and Co-op Work Experience

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Mechanical Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1118.1 - 24.1118.16

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Paper Authors


Diane L. Peters Kettering University

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Diane L. Peters is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Kettering University in Flint, Mich. Her engineering education research focuses on the links between industry and academia.

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Joy Arbor Kettering University

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Joy Arbor is assistant professor of communication in the Department of Liberal Studies at Kettering University. She teaches communication, public writing, and ethics.

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Student Perceptions of Connections Between Statics Class and Co-op Work ExperienceOne of the potential benefits of co-operative work experiences for engineering students is to provide anauthentic learning experience. By seeing the relevance of their coursework in the workplace, studentsare more motivated to learn the material and better able to apply it in the future. Researchers havefound that students often have difficulty making this connection. Instructors who are not familiar withindustrial practice may have difficulty seeing and sharing these associations.This paper will focus on connections seen by students at a technically focused university. The students atthis university are required to spend a significant amount of time in co-op work assignments. Students ina sophomore engineering course, Statics, were given an assignment to write an essay in which theyreflected on the links between their co-op work assignment and their Statics course. The specific essayprompt was developed by a mechanical engineering professor, with input from an English professor whohas experience with reflective writing assignments. Students were instructed to describe their co-opemployer and work assignment, discuss class content from the Statics course, and then reflect on therelationship between the two. The essay prompt stated that they could discuss both connectionsthrough the class content and the general problem-solving skills that they learned in the course.After completion of the assignment, students were asked for consent to include their essay in a researchproject. The collection of assignment essays for which the students gave consent was analyzed todetermine the students’ opinions regarding the strength of the relationships between their co-opassignments and the work they were doing in the Statics course. The result of this essay analysis isdiscussed in the context of relevant literature and presents recommendations to instructors so they arebetter able to provide an authentic experience for the students.

Peters, D. L., & Arbor, J. (2014, June), Student Perceptions of Connections between Statics Class and Co-op Work Experience Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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