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Online Teaching of Professional and “Soft Skills” to Undergraduate Students: Medium and Long Term Impacts. Judene Pretti, Director Waterloo Centre for Advancement in Co-operative Education ( WatCACE ) Tonya Noël, Program Evaluation & Projects Coordinator

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Online Teaching of Professional and “Soft Skills” to Undergraduate Students:Medium and Long Term Impacts

Judene Pretti, Director

Waterloo Centre for Advancement in Co-operative Education (WatCACE)

Tonya Noël, Program Evaluation & Projects Coordinator

Waterloo Professional Development Program (WatPD)

March 23, 2012

HEQCO Teaching & Learning Workshop

Hamilton, ON

outline
Outline
  • WatPD Overview
  • Courses
  • Course Design
  • Operations
  • Evaluation Plan Overview
  • Current Project
    • Students
    • Co-op Employers
    • Additional Sources
two questions
Two Questions

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How can you teach students soft skills – especially in an online course?

How will you know that the program is making a difference?

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watpd overview
WatPD Overview
  • Required online professional and “soft skill” courses taken by all undergraduate co-op students during work terms
    • 4 or 5 credits needed for co-op degree (varies by faculty)
    • Each course is ~20 hours of work
    • CR or NCR appears on students’ transcripts
  • History/Motivation for Creation
    • Feedback from employers that students need more than technical skills
    • Academic credit for work terms
    • Centrally run unit under supervision of the Associate Provost, Resources
courses
Courses
  • Required (Applied Heath Sciences, Arts, Environment, Science and Mathematics)
    • PD1: Co-op Fundamentals
    • PD2: Critical Reflection & Report Writing
  • Required (Engineering)
    • PD20: Developing Reasoned Conclusions
    • PD21: Developing Effective Plans
  • Elective (All)
    • PD3: Workplace Communication
    • PD4: Teamwork
    • PD5: Project Management
  • PD6: Problem Solving
  • PD7: Conflict Resolution
  • PD8: Intercultural Skills
course design
Course Design
  • Each course has its own content developer
  • Worked closely with Centre for Extended Learning to put courses online
  • General Idea
    • introduce theory on specific topic
    • provide examples in workplace settings
    • through assignments, students connect theory to their experiences
operations
Operations
  • Staff
    • Director and Associate Director
    • Administrative Coordinator
    • Instructors (Waterloo faculty/staff paid as sessionals)
    • Instructional Support Coordinators (5)
    • TAs (15-20/term; full-time intermediate/senior co-op students)
    • Part-time markers (60+; grad students/former TAs)
    • Program Evaluation and Projects Coordinator
  • Scale
    • Began in Fall 2006 with 272 Math students.
    • Winter 2012 courses include 6100+ students from all 6 faculties
    • Currently offer 9 courses with more on the way
program evaluation overview
Program Evaluation Overview

Focus for this project

Kirkpatrick, Donald L. (1998). Evaluating training programs: The four levels (2nd ed.)

current project students
Current Project: Students
  • End of course and “Completed PD requirements” surveys
    • Self reports using Likert scales or responding to open-ended questions (that are coded using a code book)
  • Focus groups
    • Expand on the above surveys (sessions are transcribed and coded)
  • Graduating student survey
    • Self-reports on education outcomes that are believed to influence employment success
    • Compare responses of students in co-op vs. regular programs
    • Compare responses of students in co-op who did/did not complete PD courses
current project co op employers
Current Project: Co-op Employers
  • Survey about views towards soft skills, familiarity with the program, and Waterloo students’ skills
    • Included in winter (on campus) interview packages with an online option available
  • Interviews (follow-up to the above)
  • Course reviews (volunteers from interviews)
  • Co-op students’ work term evaluations
    • Map items that do/don’t connect to WatPD objectives
    • Compare ratings of students who did vs. did not complete PD courses
current project additional sources
Current Project: Additional Sources
  • HEQCO surveys
    • Analyze data collected in the work integrated learning survey to improve understanding of differences between co-op students and non-co-op students
    • Review employer responses to determine if differences exist between Waterloo and other institutions
  • uWaterloo Office of Alumni Affairs
    • Liaise to determine if any of their studies measure WatPD objectives
slide13

Questions?

Judene Pretti, Director

Waterloo Centre for Advancement in Co-operative Education (WatCACE)

tjpretti@uwaterloo.ca

519.888.4567 x32355

Tonya Noël, Program Evaluation and Projects Coordinator

Waterloo Professional Development Program (WatPD)

tnoel@uwaterloo.ca

519.888.4567 x32271