Making co-op work for you: an exploration of student attitudes to co-op programs in the US and the UK

Tessa Berg, Sally Smith, Colin Smith, Nichole Ramirez, Joyce Main, Fletcher Trina

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Abstract

University engineering and computing courses have a long tradition of co-operative education that plays a vital role in developing students' applied skills and giving confidence to students and potential employers. Nevertheless, not all students choose to participate in a co-op course. Our study was designed to explore the reasons why students did not participate in the co-op program and what perceptions participants have about the program. We also consider students' backgrounds that may play a role in their choice. Participants were in one of three groups: 1) those who were disinterested, 2) those who were interested and/or registered but did not complete a co-op program and 3) those who are currently participating in co-op. We used a qualitative approach, including surveys and interviews, to compare and contrast experiences, approaches, motivations and attitudes of student groups in the US and the UK. Initial results show that US and UK students who identified as disinterested in the program share similar perceptions, including the perceived cost of additional time to graduation. Students also express concern that taking time away from campus to complete a co-op affects social interactions with their peers. However, we found that students' experiences in computing and engineering differ depending on their routes in to their course of study. The overall aim was to uncover ways to increase participation in co-op education to the benefit of engineering and computing students: making co-op work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWACE 19th World Conference on cooperative & work-integrated education
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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    Berg, T., Smith, S., Smith, C., Ramirez, N., Main, J., & Trina, F. (2015). Making co-op work for you: an exploration of student attitudes to co-op programs in the US and the UK. In WACE 19th World Conference on cooperative & work-integrated education http://www.waceinc.org/kyoto2015/assets/proceedings/WACE_KyotoWorldConferenceProceedings.pdf