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Socialization of Undergraduate Engineering Students into Professional Industrial Settings through a Cooperative Education Program Preliminary Results. Chris Plouff Grand Valley State University. Thoughts…. Remember what it was like to first begin dating? Remember high school dances?

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chris plouff grand valley state university

Socialization of Undergraduate Engineering Students into Professional Industrial Settings through a Cooperative Education ProgramPreliminary Results

Chris Plouff

Grand Valley State University

thoughts
Thoughts…

Remember what it was like to first begin dating?

Remember high school dances?

What do you look for in a partner and how do you make decisions about relationships?

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

presentation points
Presentation Points
  • What is Socialization?
  • Key Terms Defined
  • Why Study Student Socialization?
  • Goals of the Research Project
  • Significance of the Research Project
  • Organizational Theory Primer
  • Research Study Overview
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • Limitations/Future Research

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

what is socialization
What is Socialization?

The interaction between a stable social system and the member who enters it. Socialization refers to the process by which required behavior patterns of the society, organization, or group that he or she is entering are learned (Schein, 1970).

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

key terms defined
Key Terms Defined

Organization: Collectivities oriented to the pursuit of relatively specific goals and exhibiting relatively highly formalized social structures (Scott, 1998).

Field: The existence of a community of organizations that partakes of a common meaning system and whose participants interact more frequently and fatefully with one another than with actors outside of the field (Scott, 1994).

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

key terms defined6
Key Terms Defined

Profession: A collective group that exercises control by defining social reality, by devising ontological frameworks, proposing distinctions, creating typifications, and fabricating principles or guidelines for action (Scott & Backman, 1990). Professions construct cognitive frameworks that define arenas within which they claim jurisdiction and seek to exercise control (Scott, 2001).

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

key terms defined7
Key Terms Defined

Values: Conceptions of the preferred or desirable, together with the construction of standards to which existing structures or behaviors can be compared and assessed (Scott, 2001).

Norms: Specify how things should be done; they define legitimate means to pursue valued ends (Scott, 2001)

Roles: Conceptions of appropriate goals and activities for particular individuals or specified social positions. Beliefs are prescriptions of how the specified actors are supposed to behave (Scott, 2001).

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

key terms defined8
Key Terms Defined

Culture: A pattern of basic assumptions, invented, discovered or developed by a given group, as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore is to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems (Schein, 1990).

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

why study student socialization
Why Study Student Socialization?

Student Perspective:

  • learning outcomes not likely accomplished (at least to the intended level going into the work event)
  • satisfaction with the experience unlikely
  • potential for dissatisfaction with the chosen academic and career fields increases
  • self esteem and confidence in the ability to succeed may be negatively impacted

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

why study student socialization10
Why Study Student Socialization?

Employer Perspective:

  • lower productivity from the student
  • negative morale that could influence current full-time employees and other future students that may want to work for the organization
  • greatly limited potential for retention of the student after the experience thereby minimizing the return on investment

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

goal of the research project
Goal of the Research Project

Investigate cooperative education as an organizational phenomenon (from an anthropological and sociological perspective).

Goal: To better understand the processes that students experience when participating in cooperative education experiences so that the preparation of both student and organization will result in better, more meaningful, and effective experiences.

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

significance of the research project
Significance of the Research Project

Most research in this area has focused on learning outcomes

Some Exceptions: (Brown, 1985; Garavan and Murphy, 2001; Kirby, 1990; Major and Kozlowski, 1997; Nixon, 1989; Parsons and Caylor, 2004/2005)

Provide an organizational-based conceptual framework of the cooperative education process.

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer
Organizational Theory Primer

Organizations are about people, not buildings or facilities. An organization is not a physical entity, but rather consists of relationships between and among people and the processes that are used to maintain the desired relationships. (Barott, 2002)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer14
Organizational Theory Primer

Three layers of Culture (Kuh & Whitt, 1988; Schein, 1992):

Outer layer: consists of the organization’s artifacts (physical layout of the organization, the dress code, stories, myths, symbols)

Middle layer: consists of espoused values (articulated beliefs about what is “good,” what “works,” and what is “right.”)

Inner core: consists of underlying assumptions (deepest ingrained assumptions that are rarely questioned and taken-for-granted)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer15
Organizational Theory Primer

Three elements (or pillars) of institutions: regulative systems, normative systems, and cultural-cognitive systems.

Regulative systems: include establishing rules, monitoring conformity to them, and manipulating sanctions (rewards or punishments) in an attempt to influence future behavior.

Normative systems: “define goals or objectives…and designate appropriate ways to pursue them” (values and norms)

Cultural-cognitive systems: recognizes the “shared conceptions that constitute the nature of social reality and the frames through which meaning is made” Scott (2001)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer16
Organizational Theory Primer

Carriers are the processes that institutions employ to transmit their messages: symbolic systems, relational systems, routines, artifacts (Scott, 2001)

Symbolic systems: refer to conventional aspects of culture, including rules and values, as well as newer conceptions of symbolic schemata including models, classifications, representations, and logics.

Relational systems: “rely on patterned expectations connected to networks of social positions: role systems”

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer17
Organizational Theory Primer

Carriers are the processes that institutions employ to transmit their messages: symbolic systems, relational systems, routines, artifacts (Scott, 2001)

Routines: “carriers that rely on patterned actions that reflect the tacit knowledge of actors: deeply ingrained habits and procedures based on inarticulated knowledge and beliefs”

Artifacts: “material culture,” and include complex technologies embodied in hardware and software. Artifacts accommodate structure and action, and are therefore both products of human action and, once created and deployed, a part of the objective, structural properties of the situation.

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer18
Organizational Theory Primer
  • Entry into an organization “is a process of breaking in and joining up, of learning the ropes, of figuring out how to get along and how to make it” (Van Maanen, 1975)
  • Three stage process:
  • Entry: individual preparation and training, recruitment and selection, hiring decisions, and initial job placement;
  • Socialization: the early process of learning the ropes and finding out how to make it in the organization, mutual testing between the individual and organization;
  • Mutual Acceptance – the processes of formally and informally obtaining and granting full membership in the organization (Schein, 1978).

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer19
Organizational Theory Primer

Socialization is the process by which a culture reproduces itself. Socialization by an organization is supported by rules and regulations, cognitive categories and schemes, and norms/values (Barott, 2002).

Stage 1: confronting and accepting organizational reality

Stage 2: achieving role clarity

Stage 3: locating within the organizational context

Stage 4: detecting signposts of successful socialization

(Wanous, 1992)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer20
Organizational Theory Primer

Seven dimensions of organizational socialization processes:

Group vs. Individual

Formal vs.Informal

Sequential vs. Random

Fixed vs.Variable

Serial vs. Disjunctive

Reconstructing vs.Self-enhancing

Tournament vs. Contest

(Van Maanen & Schein, 1979; Schein, 1990)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

organizational theory primer21
Organizational Theory Primer

Three outcomes of socialization processes (Schein, 1990):

1. Custodial: total conformity to norms and learning of assumptions

(formal, self-reconstructing, serial, sequential, variable, tournament)

2. Creative Individualism: all central assumptions of the culture learned, all peripheral ones rejected, allowing creativity

(informal, self-enhancing, random, disjunctive, fixed, contest)

3. Rebellion: total rejection of assumptions

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

activity
Activity

The Co-op Dating Game

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview
Research Study Overview

Research Questions

  • What are the daily experiences of a cooperative education student?
  • What experiences and processes does a student encounter when they move from the academic to the work environment through a cooperative education program?
  • What experiences and values did students have prior to entering the cooperative education event that were influential in the student’s move from outside to inside the organization?
  • How does academic training prior to the work experience impact the transition to the work environment?

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview24
Research Study Overview

Research Questions

  • What programs and/or processes (formal or informal) are used by organizations to bring students from outside to inside the organization?
  • How are cooperative education students socialized to the field? the organization? the profession? roles?
  • How do students in a cooperative education program learn about what they need to do?
  • How are the experiences during each cooperative education semester instrumental in helping a student understand their roles and the norms of the organization?
  • Can the induction and socialization process for students into experiential education programs be predicted?

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview25
Research Study Overview

Target consists of understanding the activities of engineering students participating in a cooperative education program within the School of Engineering at GSU.

Cooperative education at GSU:

  • required for engineering students
  • full-time for three separate, four-month long semesters
  • work with the same organization throughout
  • alternating semester format
  • the last two years of the academic program.

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview26
Research Study Overview

School of Engineering (SOE) at Great State University (GSU):

  • bachelor of science in engineering degree with emphases in computer, electrical, interdisciplinary, manufacturing, and mechanical engineering
  • master of science degrees in mechanical and manufacturing engineering are currently offered.
  • approximately 650 undergraduate and 50 graduate students in SOE, and 19 terminal-degreed faculty.

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview27
Research Study Overview

Sampling:

  • students who began their first co-op semesters in Summer of 2000 through Summer of 2002
  • all four emphases (mechanical, manufacturing, electrical and computer engineering) included
  • study narrowed to include one yearly cycle (2001 start time)
  • purposeful sampling was used to learn in-depth information about representative individual cases
  • snowball sampling of GSU SOE faculty was used beginning with the dean of the college
  • purposeful sampling of company/organization representatives participating in the cooperative education program based on the information gathered in the student portion of the study

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview28
Research Study Overview

Data Collection:

Review of Artifacts/Documents:

  • academic records (transcripts, etc.)
  • evaluations completed by students and worksite supervisors
  • journals written by students

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview29
Research Study Overview

Data Collection:

Interviewing:

  • 21 students

7 ME, 9 EE, 3 CE, 1 EE/CE, 1 BUS

19 male, 2 female

20 Caucasian, 1 Asian

18 from near GSU, 3 others from same state

GPA range 2.68 to 3.88 (avg. 3.28)

19 unique co-op organizations

9 unique post-graduation employers

10 hired-on with co-op employer, 10 hired-on with new employer

1 left the engineering program (graduated in business)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview30
Research Study Overview

Data Collection:

Interviewing:

  • 16 employer representatives

14 male, 2 female

16 Caucasian

16 from within 1 hour drive of GSU

9 unique co-op organizations

years with employer range 6 to 25 years (avg. 16+ years)

  • 3 faculty representatives

dean of college

co-op program coordinator (faculty member for 16 years in ME)

chair of EE and CE programs (faculty member for 6 years)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

research study overview31
Research Study Overview

Data Collection:

Organizations:

  • 24 unique organizations

17 manufacturing- and product-based companies

employee size: 7 - 1,000+, 5 – 250 to 1,000, 5 - 250 and below

4 engineering design or engineering service-provider companies

employee sizes: 8, 65, 80, 300

1 governmental entity

mid-size city of over 100,000 people

1 higher education institution

over 20,000 students

1 transportation company

over 500 employees

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

results
Results

How is it organized?

“Leaky Funnel”

Modeling the Process

5 stages:

1. pre-entry

2. match-making (co-op position)

3. entry/socialization (co-op position)

4. match-making (post-graduation)

5. accelerated entry/socialization (post-graduation)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

conclusions
Conclusions

A fairly comprehensive understanding has been developed of what a student may encounter during the co-op experience

The socialization process is fairly predictable and therefore can be modeled and replicated (e.g. metaphorically like dating)

This model could be used to better prepare engineering students potentially impacting retention in academic programs and persistence into early career

Successful socialization:

individual/group, informal, self-enhancing, random, disjunctive, variable, contest-like (similar to creative individualism)

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference

limitations future research
Limitations/Future Research

Limitations:

Lack of diversity in student and employer informant groups

Students from one (regional) institution

Employer and students from one geographic area

Future Research:

Talk to more students who did not persist

Does co-op impact persistence and success post-graduation

Interview non-co-op hires of the same employers

2006 ASEE-CIEC Conference