CEWIL Resource Hub: Co-operative Education at the College of the North Atlantica

Students write learning objective plans for each work term. They identify the skills they want to develop, their current skill levels, and tasks they’ve identified that can help them develop these skills over the course of their work term. Students and employers are becoming increasingly engaged in these plans, and some students are pursuing skill development in unorthodox ways (e.g. completing crosswords to develop their problem solving skills) with endorsement from their employers. Students evaluate themselves based on their objectives and create a chain of continuous learning.

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Key success factors

  • The learning objective plans and reflective reports are part of a pilot project designed to increase the efficacy of the co-op program’s skill development. Students use their learning objective plans to develop their skills and encourage continuous learning, and they use their reflective reports to explore their chosen career and reflect on tools, skills, and resources that could be applicable in the classroom. 
  • Students work closely with the Co-op office to find co-op job opportunities.  
  • The reflective reports also help the institution by providing feedback on what they can do better in terms of developing employability skills.

Student profile

  • The college’s applied research unit — a department tasked with engaging industry partners and securing funding — typically hires students to work within the department. One recent student spent two of her three work terms within this unit and has subsequently been hired as a program coordinator upon graduation. The student experienced both the “traditional” version of the pilot version of co-op with more reflection and is translating her experience with co-op into the unit’s hiring and supervision practices. 

Key characteristics

  • Type: Co-operative Education
  • Year program was established: 1991
  • Number of students per year: 350
  • Number of employers/partners per year: 150
  • Programs/academic disciplines participating: 13 programs (11 Engineering, 1 Business/IT, 1 Natural Resources) 
  • Duration of experience: 4 month work term
  • Submitted by: Tony Slade