Projects & Research
In the fall of 2002, the centre prepared a cost-benefit analysis of co-operative education (PDF) for the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, prepared by James Downey, J.G. Kalbfleisch, and R.D. Truman.
The report demonstrates that there are quantifiable costs and benefits associated with co-operative education, and makes a case for the recognition of those costs in the provincial allocation of academic resources.
Graduate co-operative education in Canada
The centre has launched a study of graduate co-operative education in Canada, under the direction of Professor Patricia Rowe.
While undergraduate co-operative education programs have flourished in Canada in the past forty years, success at the graduate level has been much more modest. Various reasons are offered for this, but no one has yet done a serious study of how and why it is so, and, more important, what might be done to remedy it.
An initial report from this study (PDF) presents the results of a web search of co-operative and internship programs at the graduate level in Canadian universities, and preliminary information concerning enrolment in these programs. A chapter on this topic by Dr. Rowe and Dr. Frances Ricks (PDF) for a forthcoming handbook on co-operative education may also be viewed.
Role of co-operative education in transition from post-secondary education to labour market
A research project under the direction of Dr. Maureen Drysdale (as principal investigator) is examining the role of co-operative education in the transition from post-secondary education to the labour market. The differences in the transition by type of institution, field of study, and such student characteristics as training before the transition (i.e., work and volunteer experience), grades, attitudes, behaviours and self-esteem/self-concept are being explored. Using rich data sets provided by Statistics Canada, particularly the Youth in Transition Survey and the National Graduates Survey, the research team is seeking to determine if there are significant labour-market outcome differences between students who pursue co-operative education and students who pursue a traditional program. Initial findings will be presented at the 2005 World Conference on Co-operative Education. Maureen Drysdale and her co-investigators (James Downey, Patricia Rowe, John Goyder and Mark Baetz) have been awarded a SSHRC grant (under the Canadian Education Statistics Council (CESC)-SSHRC Education Research Initiative) to undertake this project. Two graduate students (Amanda Nosko, Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, and Mark Easton, Sociology at University of Waterloo) are also involved in this project.
Self-concept/self-esteem and academic achievement: comparing cooperative education students with non-cooperative education students
Maureen Drysdale and Amanda Nosko have just completed a second project examining the differences in self-esteem, self-concept and academic achievement between co-op and non co-op students at the University of Waterloo. A manuscript is currently being developed.
Changing roles: traditional work reports and ePortfolios
A research project considering the possibility of supplementing or substituting University of Waterloo's traditional co-op work reports in favour of the ever popular ePortfolio. Electronic portfolio was constructed by an English graduate student, Katrina Strampel). She is focused on studying the benefits of both work reports and ePortfolios and is in search of a compromise that will benefit co-op students. While on work terms, students gain knowledge and expertise in a variety of capabilities related to their employment experience. Often, these capabilities, such as presentation skills, collaborative skills, analytical skills, and writing skills, are ones that students have begun to develop during their academic terms. Using ePortfolios will encourage students to track and articulate their growth in these areas during their employment so that they may extend their learning through both their academic and work terms. Katrina explored literature at the international level to find the most appropriate way to incorporate ePortfolios into co-operative education at the University of Waterloo. She conducted surveys with co-op students and work report markers to ensure the benefits of work reports are transferred into any implementation of ePortfolios.
The role of the work report in co-operative education at the University of Waterloo
This is a work report by Matthew Escott, an undergraduate co-op student, of a project undertaken as a co-op work term project in winter 2004. The objective was:
- to document the variety of University of Waterloo policies and practices in the administration of work reports;
- to take a few soundings from students and faculty of the perceived value and effectiveness of work reports as a technique of learning;
- to compare the role played by the work report in co-op at University of Waterloo with the role of work reports at several other Canadian universities; and
- to make recommendations for improvements or alternatives to work reports.
The principal recommendations as of April 2004 are:
- ensure that every program, or at least every faculty, has determined and clearly stated the purpose of its work reports;
- incorporate learning objectives;
- make at least one work report, for all faculties and programs, solely reflective; and
- make a report-writing course mandatory. There has been considerable progress on some of the recommendations.
For current information on work reports at the University of Waterloo, including specific faculty and department guidelines, read the work reports section of the Co-op Student Manual.