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Examining Workplace Affordance and Student Engagement in Engineering Co-op and Internship Literature

Abstract

Co-ops and internships complement students’ classroom learning and constitute important contributors to the quality of engineering education. In light of Stephen Billett’s affordance-engagement framework, we reviewed 30 selected empirical studies on undergraduate engineering students’ co-op and internship experiences. From these studies, we identified three themes with respect to workplace affordances and individual engagement in engineering co-ops and internships. Our analysis not only showed that Billett’s framework offers an enlightening approach to examining engineering students’ workplace learning experiences but also it made the equity dimension of the framework explicit. We call for engineering co-op and internship programs and researchers to go beyond learning outcome assessment alone and shift the attention to uncovering the factors in workplace learning experiences that might have influenced the achievement of desirable learning outcomes.

Résumé

Les programmes coopératifs et les stages complètent l’apprentissage en classe des étudiants et contribuent grandement à la qualité de la formation en ingénierie. À la lumière du cadre des affordances / participation proposé par Stephen Billett, nous avons analysé 30 études empiriques traitant des expériences de stage et de programmes coopératifs d’étudiants en ingénierie. À partir de ces études, nous avons relevé trois thèmes liés aux possibilités offertes en milieu de travail et à l’engagement des étudiants dans les stages et les programmes coopératifs en ingénierie. Non seulement notre analyse montre-t-elle que le cadre proposé par Billet offre une approche éclairante pour examiner les expériences d’apprentissage en milieu de travail des étudiants en ingénierie, elle explicite également la dimension d’équité de ce cadre. Nous incitons les programmes coopératifs et les stages, ainsi que les équipes de recherche, à aller au-delà des seuls résultats obtenus lors de l’évaluation des apprentissages et à se pencher sur la découverte des facteurs qui, dans les expériences en milieu de travail, sont susceptibles de favoriser l’atteinte des résultats d’apprentissage souhaités.

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Funding

This review paper is part of a larger research project funded by the Dean’s Strategic Fund (Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto).

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Correspondence to Qin Liu.

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Liu, Q., Reeve, D., Rottmann, C. et al. Examining Workplace Affordance and Student Engagement in Engineering Co-op and Internship Literature. Can. J. Sci. Math. Techn. Educ. 20, 116–129 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42330-019-00074-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s42330-019-00074-6

Keywords

  • Workplace learning
  • Workplace affordances
  • Individual engagement
  • Co-participation