Co-operative Education Office

A Winning Formula for Everyone!

Co-operative Education Office

Université de Moncton

Co-operative Education Office

A Winning Formula for Everyone!

Co-operative Education Office

Université de Moncton

Research and added-value of Co-operative Education

Research and added-value of Co-operative Education

Summary of Dr. Dominique Bouteiller's Research on the value of Co-operative Education

May 25, 2005

The added value of Co-operative Education

Part 1

Note : Work-Study Program (WSP) or Work-Study Alternation (WSA) are the same. 

Why has the student chosen the co-op formula?

  1. To help him/her acquire new professional experience
  2. To develop new personal abilities
  3. To diversify his/her learning program
  4. To help him/her choose a career
  5. To help him/her finance his/her education

62% of students would like to do their second work term in a different business because they find it important to:

  1. Know different kinds of businesses
  2. Discover other fields of application
  3. Increase his/her chances of getting a job

38% of students would like to do their second work term in the same business because they find it important to:

  1. Continue a positive experience
  2. Have the possibility of being hired by that business
  3. Discover another department within the same business

Here are the most important reasons why employers hire co-op students:

  1. Helps recruit a future employee
  2. Compensate for lack of staff
  3. To deal with a temporary increase in the workload

According to students and tutors, this is how the student is perceived by the business:

  1. He/She is an employee just like any other
  2. He/She is a future employee of the business
  3. He/She is a student in training

He/She is very rarely perceived as:

  1. A replacement employee
  2. An observer of others' work

Inversely, the tutor is perceived as:

  1. A colleague
  2. An expert
  3. A counselor
  4. A boss
  5. A model
  6. A teacher

Is the student involved in the production system? Is this a real integration, student tourism or cheap labour?

Co-op students agree that the tasks performed:

  1. Are as demanding as those of regular employees
  2. Are numerous and diverse
  3. Demand initiative from the student
  4. Demand an increasing amount of responsibilities
  5. Are more and more complex

Do students learn anything during their work term?

Here are the fields of learning:

  • Professionalization: *According to students, they have gained a lot of technical knowledge and technical knowhow related to their field of study
  • Socialization: *According to students, they have an understanding of the business functions and also understand the "employer/employee" relationship
  • Personal development: *According to students, they have greatly developed:
  1. Their ability to function on their own
  2. Their sense of responsibility
  3. Their ability to identify problems
  4. Their self-confidence
  5. Their ability to plan and organize their work
  6. Their ability to work in teams
  7. Their ability to express themselves and to argue their point of view
  8. Their ability to negotiate with others

The students seem to have learned as much during their first work term as they have during their second work term, and tutors agree that students have learned a great deal during their work terms.

As a matter of fact, 62% of tutors claim that at the end of their work term, co-op students had become "operational" and "productive" people with regards to their unit's operations and had achieved that in 6.5 weeks.

83% of tutors have said that the work term was a good learning environment for the student and that both parties had gained as much as they could from it. On the other hand, 17% say that this is true, but that certain things make the work term a negative thing. Tutors find that during work terms, certain aspects are lacking, with regards to:

  1. The nature of the mandate given to the student
  2. The length of the work term
  3. The "Productivity/learning" relation
  4. The tutor's availability
  5. The competency level of the student

Part 2

According to students, the work terms are very beneficial and become:

  1. An efficient means of developing their technical skills
  2. An efficient means of integrating classroom knowledge and practical knowhow
  3. An efficient means of developing their social and interpersonal skills
  4. A source of motivation for them to obtain their college diploma

Tutors claim that work terms are:

  1. An efficient means of integrating classroom knowledge and practical knowhow
  2. Globally, a winning formula for students
  3. A great opportunity to watch the student "in action" before deciding to hire him/her
  4. Globally, a winning formula for businesses
  5. An efficient means of developing students' social and interpersonal skills
  6. Sufficiently long to allow the student to gain a significant amount of knowledgeand that:
  • The student's classroom (theoretical) knowledge, when beginning the work term, was sufficient to ensure an efficient integration
  • The student's practical knowhow, when beginning the work term, was sufficient to ensure an efficient integration

According to co-op students, the WSP (work-study program) system allows them to:

  1. Gain professional experience that can be used as a negotiation tool on the job market
  2. Identify the kind of business that would best suit them
  3. Better understand the requirements of their filed of study so that they may choose a specific career

*According to teachers, WSP students seem to:

  • Have higher expections from their teacher
  • Ask more specific and applied questions
  • Be more mature
  • Get better grades
  • Show greater interest for their classes
  • Are more involved and participate more in class
  • Show a sharper critical sense

They also think that WSP students' behaviour has an effect on the teacher's functions. The following are the more notable effects:

  • The student/teacher relationship becomes more interesting
  • More dynamic exchanges are generated between the students
  • Makes the teaching experience more enjoyable
  • Encourages the teacher to stay up-to-date in his field of study
  • Makes for a more stimulating learning environment
  • Allows the teachers to rely on student's experiences during presentations

Here are, according to teachers, the functions of work terms and of WSP:

  • A means for developing social and interpersonal skills
  • Help to create experience that can be used as a negotiation tool on the job market
  • A means for integrating classroom knowledge with practical knowhow
  • A means for developing technical skills
  • A formula to recommend to new students
  • Makes for a better understanding of the student's particular field of study and to help him/her make a specific career choice.
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