2002 CEED Research

Two grant applications were funded in 2002 for the CEA/CEED Research Grant:

GRANT 1: Dr. Karen Wilkinson (kwilkins@kettering.edu) and Dr. Laura Sullivan (lsulliva@kettering.edu) from Kettering University. Satisfaction and Persistence for Male and Female Engineering Students as a Result of the Cooperative Work Experience.

Research Abstract: This study will investigate the effect that the cooperative work experience has on the job satisfaction and persistence of men and women in undergraduate engineering programs. Data has already been collected for a sample of 300 students upon completion of their first cooperative work experience (during the first year of their undergraduate degree program). This group of students was given a survey in 1997, where they were asked a series of questions that measured (a) the characteristics of the students' workplace, e.g. number of coworkers, age and gender distribution of coworkers, and gender of supervision, (b) the characteristics of the assignment given, e.g. clerical work, managerial duties, testing, manufacturing, (c) the characteristics of the support system available to the students at work, e.g. supervisor, coworker, parental support, (d) the extent of student participation in work decisions, (e) role clarity for the student in his/her assignment, and (f) the consistency of values between student and company. Analysis of these results has allowed the authors to develop models of the relationship between the early cooperative work experience and satisfaction/persistence. Because persistence and satisfaction in engineering for female students is a recognized national concern, the authors are especially interested in gender differences in these relationships.

The grant proposal seeks to support a student intern who will assist the authors with a similar survey, administered to the same population of students who are now approaching graduation and to conduct interviews with students who have chosen to leave engineering since their first work experience.

The results of both surveys will provide valuable information to engineering companies who desire to attract and retain female engineers. It will also assist the authors in developing orientation programs for students to help them be more successful and satisfied with the work experience. If the research shows that satisfactory co-op experiences increase retention and unsatisfactory ones decrease it, engineering educators should be informed. Justifications for providing co-op experiences in engineering of the right kind would be strengthened by such findings.

GRANT 2: Dr. Benjamin Blair (bblair@cobilan.msstate.edu) and Dr. Meghan Millea (mmillea@cobilan.msstate.edu) from Mississippi State University. &quotStudent Academic Performance and Job Placement: The Impact of Cooperative Education."

Research Abstract: Documentation of the effectiveness of cooperative education programs has been the focus of much research. One branch of this research considers the impacts of participation on student performance. This study will apply econometric analysis to quantify the impacts of cooperative education on academic performance, retention, academic tenure, and job placement using data on university undergraduates. By measuring the costs and benefits of the cooperative education experience, students will have access to more information about such programs; in addition, administrators will have documentation of the effectiveness of cooperative education programs.

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