Research Output

Making co-op work: an exploration of student attitudes to co-op programs.

  Engineering and computing at university both have a long tradition of co-operative education which plays a vital role in developing students' applied skills and giving confidence to both students and potential employers. Co-op education refers to relevant work experience integrated into a course. The main motivation for students in completing a co-op program, or placement, is in their increased employability skills; however, students cite other benefits such as increased interest in their subjects at university, improved grades on return from placement and support for career decisions. A study was designed to explore the reasons why students did not take a placement, and we considered both those students who tried but were not successful in securing a placement and those who did not apply for placements. The qualitative study revealed that students who applied but were not successful had in some cases limited their options by being selective in the placements for which they had applied. For some, it came down to excessive competition for the roles. For those that did not apply, stated reasons included anxiety about their abilities, sacrifices (such as giving up part-time paid work and apartments), concern about losing their study skills and difficulties in reconciling family and social commitments with the time requirements of full-time work. This paper explores the findings and asks how we can make coop programs work for students.

  • Date:

    30 September 2015

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE)

  • DOI:


  • Library of Congress:

    QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    005 Computer programming, programs & data


Smith, S., Berg, T. & Smith, C. (2015). Making co-op work: an exploration of student attitudes to co-op programs. In Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), 2015. 32614 2015. IEEE, 1-6. doi:10.1109/fie.2015.7344173. ISBN 978-1-4799-8454-1



Professional identity, employability, computing,

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