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The Effect Of Cooperative Education On Self Efficacy Among Undergraduate Engineering Students

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Issues of Cooperative Education I

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1220.1 - 13.1220.9



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Paper Authors

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Joe Raelin Northeastern University

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Jerry Hamann University of Wyoming

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David Whitman University of Wyoming

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Rachelle Reisberg Northeastern University

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

The Effect of Cooperative Education on Self-Efficacy among Undergraduate Engineering Students


Northeastern University (NU) and the University of Wyoming (UW) are investigating whether the participation of sophomores (with particular attention to women) in formal undergraduate engineering programs that provide work experiences while enrolled (e.g., cooperative education and internships) is related to enhanced self-efficacy. Self-efficacy theory provides an important framework for differentiating the career outcomes of students in engineering. In particular, positive self-efficacy beliefs appear to significantly affect persistence in undergraduate engineering programs. This study found that co-op programs appear to make a significant contribution to the enhancement of work self- efficacy.


The purpose of this study is to isolate those factors that contribute most to the development of three self-efficacy dimensions thought to be most relevant to the retention of sophomores (especially women) in undergraduate engineering: work, academic, and career. It examines, in particular, if cooperative education alone enhances efficacy (while controlling for pre-existing conditions among students enrolling in a cooperative education school as well as controlling for alternative supports for students to assist them during their undergraduate experience). One of the schools participating in the study, Northeastern University, requires cooperative (co-op) education whereas the University of Wyoming does not.

The critical research questions addressed are:

1. Are formal co-op experiences positively associated with three of the critical dimensions of self- efficacy: work, academic, and career? 2. What are the relationships among demographic characteristics, cooperative education, contextual supports, and work, academic, and career self-efficacy?

This paper presents the methodology and previously unpublished summary findings from a longitudinal study of workplace learning, conducted at both Northeastern University and the University of Wyoming. The background and methodology given below were originally presented in a preliminary form at the 37th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference1 as a work in progress and are included here, in addition to the findings, to provide a context for the reader.


Colleges and universities around the country are placing a growing emphasis on programs that allow students to gain work experience and are beginning to define success by more than just academic learning. These programs comprise co-op jobs, internships, apprenticeships, and other methods that integrate experience in the world with experience in the classroom. These

Raelin, J., & Hamann, J., & Whitman, D., & Reisberg, R. (2008, June), The Effect Of Cooperative Education On Self Efficacy Among Undergraduate Engineering Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3748

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