Making co-op work: an exploration of student attitudes to co-op programs

Tessa Berg, Sally Smith, Colin Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


Engineering and computing at university both have a long tradition of co-operative education which plays a vital role in developing students' applied skills, and giving confidence to both students and potential employers. The main motivation for students in completing a co-op program or placement is in their increased employability skills; however, students cite other benefits such as increased interest in their subjects at university, improved grades on return from placement and support for career decisions. A study was designed to explore the reasons why students did not take a placement, and we considered both those students who tried but were not successful in securing a placement and those who did not apply for placements. The qualitative study revealed that students who applied but were not successful had in some cases limited their options by being selective in the placements for which they had applied. For some, it came down to excessive competition for the roles. For those that did not apply, stated reasons included anxiety about their abilities, sacrifices (such as giving up part-time paid work and apartments), and difficulties in reconciling family and social commitments with the time requirements of full-time work. This paper explores the findings and asks how we can make co-op programs work for students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference Proceedings
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)978-1-4799-8453-4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventFrontiers in Education 2015 - Camino Real Hotel & Conference Center, El Paso, United States
Duration: 21 Oct 201524 Oct 2015


ConferenceFrontiers in Education 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityEl Paso


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