Cooperative education and organizational socialization of university graduates.
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this research was to assess the effects of cooperative education on the transition to work of graduates in engineering and engineering-related programs at Canadian universities. It was theorized that the cooperative experience would result in a higher level of socialization to the organization than to the profession or to academia. It was expected that this higher level of organizational socialization would manifest itself in increased levels of organizational commitment and career development. The research model was based on a three-period process of Input (pre-university), Throughput (during university), and Output (post-university), each with its own set of variables. The methodology chosen for this research was qualitative rather than quantitative since the variables were complex and multidimensional in nature. An interview protocol was developed and pretested then applied in a procedure involving a sample size of 103 participants: students in their last semester, and employees within 5 years of graduation. Since students self-select into coop or traditional programs, the comparison of coop participant data directly to non-coop was inappropriate; thus non-coop data were used as a point of reference from which to view coop data. Participants were chosen as closely as possible to random from the student population at three Canadian universities, and from Ottawa-area companies. Results indicated that the coop experience does indeed prepare graduates to enter full-time work with fewer transition problems than graduates from non-coop programs; that graduates from both coop and non-coop programs are committed more to their own career development than to organization, profession, or to academia; and that pre-university influences tend to influence socialization from structured work experiences. The coop experience tends to reinforce traits that were already present, including the drive for achievement; this approach meets the needs of those choosing it, just as the traditional approach meets the needs of its students. A related survey of students at a business school where the program is traditional but the methodology is based on practical case studies with strong faculty influence indicated that the subjects were also well prepared to enter work. Future research in this area is warranted; a longitudinal approach would yield more valid results than cross-sectional studies.
Degree ProgramEducational Foundations and Administration