Maintaining Academic Quality

Faculty members play a critical role in maintaining the academic quality of the program. Faculty Advisors help to create the appropriate level of learning by assisting students in developing Learning Objectives which relate aspects of the work assignment to material covered in the student’s curriculum. These goals vary with each student since cooperative education is by definition a highly individualized program of study. Academic credit is awarded when a student meets co-op course requirements which are outlined in the course syllabus.

 

Responsibilities

The Co-op Faculty Advisor’s role is similar to that of an advisor who agrees to supervise a student’s practicum or independent study project. It is the responsibility of the Faculty Advisor to:

  • discuss learning objectives with student before job placement begins
  • work with the student to develop the Learning Agreement containing college-level learning objectives, and other academic assignments along with their deadlines
  • discuss on-site visits and final evaluation procedures with the employer
  • ensure that the student understands the cooperative education course requirements
  • maintain contact with the student for the duration of the co-op experience
  • contact the student’s Supervisor at least once during the semester to check on the student’s progress
  • assign a grade for the student’s academic work
  • evaluate student on overall performance at the end of the semester
  • supply employment leads to the co-op staff wherever possible

Student Learning Agreement

Before beginning the cooperative education assignment, the student develops a Student Learning Agreement with input and advice from the Co-op Faculty Advisor and the employer. The Learning Agreement consists of four sections.

 

Section I – Student

This section includes general student information, proposed number of cooperative education credits to be earned, job title and a description of work-related activities and responsibilities known to that date.

 

Section II – Employer

This section requires the student to identify Learning Objectives to be achieved in the work setting. Students are encouraged to focus on educational goals that relate to their personal, social, and career development. It is expected that Co-op Faculty advisors will work closely with students to identify and develop these goals. For more information on how to develop learning objectives, please refer to the Learning Objectives Guidelines sheet included with the Student Learning Agreement forms.

 

Section III – Co-op Faculty Advisor

In this section the evaluation plan for the student is outlined by the Co-op Faculty Advisor. In addition to the work experience, Faculty Advisors may assign journals that describe learning, readings that keep the learning process focused, professional interviews to aid with career decisions, and a wide variety of projects that are conducive to evaluating and grading co-op students.

 

Section IV – Revision of Learning Objectives

Students are required to review the completed Learning Agreement with their work supervisors within the first three weeks on the job. Some revision or updating of the objectives may take place at that time. All revisions must be agreed upon by the Co-op Faculty Advisor. The student is responsible for providing the Faculty Advisor, employer, and the Co-op Office with a completed and finalized copy of the Learning Agreement.

 

Benefits to the Faculty/College

Benefits of the Cooperative Education Program to Essex County College include the following:

  • Keep college curricula up-to-date with changes in industry through constant input from employers.
  • Develop contacts in business, industry and government across a number of different fields.
  • Assist in the recruitment and retention of students
  • Build positive relationships between the college and the local business community.

Frequently Asked Questions by Faculty

How often should I meet with each cooperative education student?

The Cooperative Education staff recommends that Faculty Advisors meet individually with students at least three times during the semester. At the first meeting the job description, learning objectives and other academic requirements are discussed. The second meeting, scheduled around mid-term enables the Advisor to see how well the student is progressing toward the objectives and other course requirements and allows the student to express any questions or concerns about the placement. The third meeting scheduled at the end of the semester, provides an opportunity to discuss the student’s overall impressions about the assignment, turn in papers or projects or discuss any other aspects of the course.

 

How do I determine learning objectives?

The main purpose of learning objectives is to apply classroom learning in a real life setting and to provide the student with the opportunity to acquire new skills. Each set of Learning Objectives will be unique to the particular student and based largely on the student’s job description. For more information on developing objectives please refer to the “Learning Objectives Guidelines” which comes with the Student Learning Agreement packet.

 

Should I make site visits?

Yes. The Faculty Advisor is strongly encouraged to make site visits whenever possible. The Cooperative Education staff will make every effort to accompany the Advisor on these visits. Site visits are important because they present another opportunity for faculty to assess a student’s job performance. If visits are not possible due to unavailability on the part of the supervisor, the Faculty Advisor should seek alternative methods of keeping in touch with the supervisor.

 

How should I assign a grade?

In Section III of the Student Learning Agreement the Faculty Advisor develops a formula for assigning a co-op course grade and discusses this formula with the student. It is recommended that the grade be a composite one combining employer evaluations, assessment of academic assignments, and progress towards learning objectives. See ‘Grading and Evaluation’ section of the Cooperative Education Handbook.

 

Will I receive additional financial compensation for participating as a Co-op Faculty Advisor?

Yes. Pay schedules are determined by the Office of Academic Affairs. Co-op Faculty Advisors may carry a maximum case load of ten students.