New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Cooperative & Experiential Education
Research studies on undergraduate students’ participation in internships and co-operative education have primarily focused on career outcomes (job offers, higher salaries), skill outcomes (technical, team, and communication skills), and personal outcomes (self-efficacy, career paths). Fewer studies have investigated how the social structure (such as a community of practice) contributes to engineering identity formation. This study examined the most-memorable individual and collective group experiences that undergraduate student interns constructed from their participation in social learning activities in a sponsored program. Using a convenience sample of 45 students participating in a sponsored program in the College of Engineering & Computer Science at a large public university, students were asked to write down their “best program memory.” This question was left open-ended so that students could respond with individual values they ascribed to their experiences. The remaining six questions on the questionnaire provided further details for three selected case study narratives illuminating the students’ holistic perspective on their program experience.
A distinguishing feature of the program was the value-added activities offered with the purpose of creating a social learning community involving interns, industry professionals, faculty, and support staff. Value-added program activities included Socials, Distinguished Speaker Series, and an annual Symposium. These activities reflect the integration of varied communities of practice (in this case, the business world and the academic world) that comprise the social learning system of the student intern. Twenty-seven percent (n=12/45) of the respondents specifically referenced one or more of the three value-added program activities as a memorable experience: Socials, Distinguished Speaker Series, or Symposium. The annual Symposium was the most frequently mentioned event. Of the remaining respondents, 24% (n=11/45) referenced the relationship with their industry mentor as the most memorable experience; 44% (n = 20/45) referenced some aspect of their internship, primarily related to their assigned project; and 4% (2/45) had just begun their internship. Participation in one or more of these three activities was related to enjoyment in shared learning experiences, commitment to the major, confidence-building, and feeling welcomed into the community. Relationship-building activities and experiences seemed to have had the most impact on women and first generation college students in creating a welcoming environment to the engineering community. Recommendations for internship and co-operative education practitioners in establishing social learning communities are included in the paper.
Massi, L., & Christie-Tabron, J., & Georgiopoulos, M., & Pina, M., & Quinn, R. A., & Herold, J., & Small, K. A. (2016, June), Transforming the Culture of Internship Experiences through Social Learning Communities Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27079
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