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1. What are Professional Development (PD) courses?
PD courses are online courses that co-op students take to earn academic credit for their work terms. These credits are in addition to the required number of academic credits students must earn to meet their plan’s degree requirements.
2. How can you teach the PD course topics in an online environment?
One way to view the WatPD program is like that of a science classroom. The WatPD courses themselves form the lecture component while the work terms form the lab or practical component in which students can test out the theories they are learning.
Students' soft skills are enhanced through the combination of exposure to theories and background information on particular topics (the PD courses) and the work experiences they have during their co-op work terms.
3. How much work is involved in a PD course?
Each PD courses is designed to take students 20–25 hours to complete. This estimate includes both time reading/watching/listening to course content and time spent completing course assessments.
The estimated workload is constantly monitored by WatPD staff through feedback collected in end of course surveys. Students are reporting that the PD courses are, indeed, 20–25 hours of work over the ten weeks.
4. Why do students complete PD courses during their work terms?
One reason students take PD courses during their work terms is the benefits they receive taking PD courses while they are in the workplace. Reviewing course materials one night then going to work the next day allows students to apply the knowledge they are gaining in their PD courses in an actual work environment.
Additionally, students have a different mindset on work terms than they do on their academic terms. On academic terms, students’ mindsets are often performance driven. Many students ask questions such as “will this be on the exam” and focus on what is needed to fulfil course requirements.
During their work terms, however, students are more likely to look for ways to improve the status quo and surpass others’ expectations. This is the mindset we want students to have while completing WatPD courses.
5. How are PD students evaluated?
Within a PD course, individual assignments/ quizzes/ tests/ exercises/etc. will be given marks. However, the overall grade in the course will be Credit (CR) or No-Credit (NCR). PD course grades appear on students’ transcripts.
6. What supports are provided to students completing these courses?
Each PD course has a support team that includes a Waterloo instructor, a WatPD Instructional Support Coordinator, one or more Teaching Assistants (TAs) and several part-time markers. The support team is trained to answer questions, provide feedback and mark student assignments. The current course support teams are listed in the student section of this site.
7. Do PD courses replace work reports?
No, the PD courses do not replace work reports. Students must still meet the work report requirements of their program. However, for students in Math and Science, successful completion of PD11 replaces the first work report requirement.
For Applied Health Sciences, Arts, and Environment students, completion of PD12 replaces the first work report requirement.
8. What do students do when they spend a work term without internet access?
Students who are unable to access the Internet while on a work term can make alternate arrangements for getting course content and submitting course assignments by contacting the WatPD office prior to leaving campus for their work term.
9. Should students work on their PD course during work hours?
PD courses are a co-op degree requirement and completely separate from the working agreement between a student and his/her co-op employer. It is expected that students complete their PD courses on their own time and using their own resources.
10. What is the cost to students taking PD courses?
There is no cost to students taking PD courses. The PD program is not funded through co-op fees.
11. Who guides the development of the WatPD program?
The Co-operative Education Council provides direction for the WatPD program. The council is chaired by Beth Jewkes, Associate Provost, Resources and consists of an Associate Dean from each of the six Faculties, the Executive Director of the Co-operative Education & Career Action (CECA), two Associate Directors of CECA and student representatives from each of the Faculties.
The WatPD-Engineering program, run by WatPD, is directed by the WatPD-Engineering Curriculum Committee which is chaired by Marc Aucoin, Academic Director, WatPD-Engineering. It consists of faculty representatives from each of the Engineering departments as well as student representatives.
12. Is WatPD making a difference?
Yes. Please visit the program evaluation section of this website for an overview of the WatPD program evaluation plan and the data collected that supports the fact that WatPD is making a difference to its students.