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WACAC 2014 Conference San Jose. June 11, 2014. Co-operative Education in Canada & the United States. Stephanie Ranslow, Northeastern University Tony Munro, University of Waterloo. Outline. Experiential learning co-operative education Co-operative education vs. internships

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Wacac 2014 conference san jose
WACAC 2014 ConferenceSan Jose

June 11, 2014

Co operative education in canada the united states

Co-operative Education in Canada & the United States

Stephanie Ranslow, Northeastern University

Tony Munro, University of Waterloo


  • Experiential learning co-operative education

  • Co-operative education vs. internships

  • Basics of co-operative education

  • How it works?

  • Benefits of co-operative education to academic institution

  • Benefits of co-operative education to students

Why experiential education is important
Why experiential education is important

  • Growing focus on ‘outcomes’ in education

    • Accountability

    • Education as an investment

  • Establish connection between academic learning and work application

  • Learning by doing

  • Unfamiliar situations = new learning

  • Informed career decision-making

Co op vs internships
Co-op vs. Internships

  • Co-op

    • clearly defined, full-time positions away from the classroom, with specific learning outcomes

    • the experience integrated into the curriculum.

  • Internships

    • often Ill-defined, unpaid, part-time

    • may be during academic semester

    • may or may not be related to major or interest

    • lack of integration into the academic experience

    • usually no longer than three months

C o op basics
Co-op basics

  • Employment integrated into the academics

    • Multiple work terms

    • Test career options

    • Head start on the job market

  • Exploration/preparation prior + Reflection/integration after

  • Students need to be responsible for decision making (competitive process) with significant resources to help them

  • Opportunity to establish contacts and develop your professional network

  • Graduates are ‘work-place ready’

History and evolution of co op at northeastern
History and evolution of co-op at Northeastern

1909 Earn to Learn

  • Combine work with school in order to pay the bills

  • Co-op program begins with just eight students working for four Boston employers

    1980’s National Growth

  • 37 States Across the Country

  • Concentrations in: New York City, Washington D.C., and the West Coast, including San Diego and Silicon Valley

    1980’s International Co-ops offered

  • “Handful” of students participate


  • 7200 Students participate yearly in Co-op

  • 300 Students participate yearly in International Co-op

Co operative education structure
Co-operative Education structure


  • Complete mandatory Co-op Prep course

  • Participate in advising sessions with Co-op Faculty Coordinator

  • Navigate Employer Database

  • Search, sort, and select co-op positions based on major, interests, skills

  • Build preference list of positions and submit job preferences to co-op coordinators

  • Track placement process, interview, accept position


  • Consists of alternating periods of academic study with periods of substantive full-time employment

  • Promotes integrated learning and application of concepts

Co operative education at waterloo
Co-operative education at Waterloo

  • 5 or 6 four-month work terms completed in alternating sequence with academic terms

  • Centrally administered through Co-operative Education and Career Action department (125+ staff)

    • Job development

    • Online recruitment process

    • On-campus interviews

    • Career development workshops

    • Student Advising on campus and on work term

    • Employer relationship management

  • WatPD: online professional development program focused on enhancing connection between the workplace, the academic courses and eventual career path

  • Geographically distributed staff maintain local contacts

Integration of work experience and academic learning at waterloo
Integration of work experience and academic learning at Waterloo

  • Work term performance evaluation

  • WatPD courses (4 course requirement)

    • Common threads through all courses:

      • Critical Reflection, Professionalism, Technology, Continuous Learning, Diversity, Ethics, Collaboration

    • Completed online while on work terms (one course/term)

Benefits of co op education to the university
Benefits of co-op education to the university Waterloo

  • Enhanced reputation among employers

    • Leaders of tomorrow

    • Experienced graduates

    • Entrepreneurial mindset

    • Innovation

  • Attracts career-focused and motivated students

  • Promotes research linkages & innovation

  • Encourages relevant course content

  • Lower debt loads among graduating students

Outcomes of co op education for students
Outcomes of co-op education for students Waterloo

  • Opportunity to ‘test’ potential careers

  • Networking with potential employers and mentors

  • Professional and personal development

  • Informed academic & career choices

  • Increased motivation

  • Earnings while still in school

    • Manage debt load

  • Enhanced employability upon graduation

    • Earlier job offers & higher starting salaries

Perspectives Waterloo

  • Student: The connections you make with employers can help you move closer to the goals you already have, OR they can help you realize that you should rethink your career plans.

    • Mohammed, Ghana

  • Employer: Our co-op students are able to adapt to geographic changes, relocation challenges, and corporate cultures. The co-op program enables GE to monitor Northeastern’s students for future employment.

    • Kristen Picano, GE Distribution

  • Northeastern: We believe in experiential learning because it deepens a student’s knowledge and learning. The result may very well be employment or graduate school, but those do not drive our belief in the power of this educational model. The learning that happens does…

    • Dr. Susan Ambrose, Senior Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education & Experiential Learning.

Career success and co op
Career Success and Co-op Waterloo


  • Ranked #1 by Princeton Review in Career Services

  • On average, more than 51% of students receive a job offer from a previous co-op employer

  • More than 90%of our graduates are either employed or enrolled in graduate school nine months after graduation

  • 87% of these graduates are doing work related to their major

Questions discussion
Questions/Discussion Waterloo