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The Attributes of
 Cooperative Education Programs

The Attributes of Cooperative Education Programs provide a conceptual framework that advances cooperative education as a discipline and are the foundation on which the accreditation process is established. Programs of cooperative education can now be accredited based on their adherence to this model. It is recognized, however, that any process will evolve, and elaboration of this model will be no exception.

College and University representatives participating in the Cooperative Education Network, the discussion group which founded the Accreditation Council for Cooperative Education, have subscribed to the following Attributes of Cooperative Education Programs:

 

Institutionalizing Cooperative Education

Literature of the educational institution must include:

  • Descriptions of the mission and goals for the cooperative education program.
  • Definition of cooperative education as an academic program.
  • Identifying information as to the disciplines which provide for cooperative education in the curriculum.
  • Location of the program coordinating office(s).

The institution must have established written criteria defining:

  • Student eligibility for the cooperative education program, with policies for student participation.
  • Employer participation in the cooperative education program, with policies defining the cooperative relationship.

Admission of students to the cooperative education program must be the responsibility of the educational institution.

A formalized plan should exist for the alternation of campus-based classroom study with multiple periods of work experience. Time spent in the work portion of the curriculum should encompass a significant portion of the overall degree program (minimum guideline - 20% of the total time) to be an effective augmentation to the curriculum. (No cooperative education program consists of 100% Summer employment. This is a Summer Employment Program.)

Full-Time Alternating
The institution will have in place formalized alternation of periods of full-time classroom study with periods of full-time work experience approximately equal in length to the classroom periods.

  • Baccalaureate programs Curriculum includes at least one academic year of multiple terms of full-time work experience. (Normally totals at least 30 weeks, depending on the institution calendar.)
  • Two-year academic programs and graduate-level programs. Curriculum includes a minimum of two work periods , one of which is not a Summer term. (Normally totals well over 15 weeks due to the "two-work-period" definition.)

Parallel
The student will be classified by the educational institution as, at least, a half-time student. The institution will have in place a formalized plan for a work experience component which will encompass approximately one-half of a regular work-week in length.

  • Baccalaureate programs Curriculum includes four or more work/school combination periods scheduled over, at least, two academic years . (Normally totals at least 60 weeks, depending on the institution calendar.)
  • Two-year academic programs and graduate-level programs Curriculum includes two or more work/school combination periods scheduled over, at least, one academic year . (Normally totals at least 30 weeks, depending on the institution calendar.)

Combination Alternating / Combination Parallel
Combination Alternating plans meet the defining features of full-time alternating models, in addition, they include one or more parallel components. Combination Parallel plans meet the defining features of parallel models, in addition, they include one or more periods of non-alternating full-time work.

  • Baccalaureate programs Curriculum includes multiple combinations of parallel and full-time work-experience periods (including non-Summer terms) that result in the approximate equivalent of 30 full-time workweeks.
  • Two-year academic programs and graduate-level programs Curriculum includes multiple combinations of parallel and full-time work-experience periods (including non-Summer terms) that result in the approximate equivalent of 15 full-time workweeks.

 

Faculty Involvement

In the disciplines which provide for cooperative education in the curriculum, faculty will have endorsed the fundamental policies for the program and approved the methods for awarding credit for periods of cooperative work experience.

There should be a productive relationship between the overall faculty in academic departments including cooperative education in the curriculum and the faculty and/or administrators who operate the cooperative education program.

 

Student Involvement

The formalized plan for the cooperative education program must include a description for students that indicates cooperative education involves alternating multiple periods of work experience with multiple periods of classroom study. The work periods are to be integrated with the curriculum, not occur previous to the initial school term or after the final school term has been completed. It will also specify that once a student is enrolled in the program, continuation in the alternation is expected over a significant portion of the remaining curriculum.

Cooperative education work experience periods are considered as a formal part of the student’s curriculum. The student must be registered with the educational institution for the cooperative education work experience.

Prior to employment, participating students are provided with either an individualized or group orientation to the purposes and policies for the program and expectations for student involvement.

Efforts should be made to ensure that cooperative education work experiences are related to student academic and/or career goals. Ideally, a student’s work scope and/or area(s) of responsibility should broaden and/or involve progression to increased responsibilities with advanced education.

Evidence of each period of cooperative education participation must be documented on the official institutional transcript of the student. Official documentation of participation, progress, employer evaluation of the student and student evaluation of each work experience must be maintained.

The educational institution should have in place a process to monitor student workplace experiences.

Student performance in each work period must be evaluated. In place, must be a methodology to assist the student in assessing work experiences and integrating classroom studies with the practical knowledge obtained.

Students should receive a form of academic credit for the periods of cooperative work experience. The type of academic credit awarded should be determined by the faculty in the educational institution. Possible Student Benefits and Requirements.

 

Employer Involvement

An attempt must be made to ensure that employers, as well as students and the academic institution, equally, meet individual objectives of the cooperative education program for it to be of maximum value to each as separate entities.

The educational institution should provide employers with written statements of the institution’s goals and policies applicable to employer participation in the cooperative education program.

In place, should be a commitment of cooperation between participating employers and the academic institution to ensure student workplace learning as well as an agreed-upon process of evaluating the student’s work experience.

An understanding should exist between the educational institution and participating employers as to the exchange of information required to ensure achievement of student, academic and employer goals for program participation.

There should be evidence of commitment on the part of the educational institution to encourage participating employers to maintain an on-going employment relationship within the cooperative education framework that lasts beyond a single student’s participation and/or beyond a single project’s completion.

A fundamental purpose of cooperative education is for students to have an opportunity to learn under real-work conditions. While on cooperative work experience periods, students are considered as actual employees of the hiring organization. These "conditions" of actual employment include:

  • The student will be considered to be an employee of the hiring organization and subject to the policies and laws that relate to other employees of the organization.
  • The student will receive compensation in the form of wages for work performed.
  • The student will be under the supervision of the employer and perform work assigned by the employer.