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[edit] Statement of Purpose

The services that university programs provide to foster creativity among its students is a current concern among educators, employers, and students themselves. The evidence provided in this Wiki suggests it would benefit school’s to integrate co-op programs into their curriculum to ensure that students are knowledgeable in a variety of areas of learning [1].

In particular, this Wiki provides information on the advantages and disadvantages of the current co-op program in the psychology department at Brock University. Information is provided on how co-op programs can benefit the university by referencing other programs of its kind that exist at other academic institutions. By examining ways in which other co-op programs operate, they demonstrate how Brock University can further develop their psychology co-op program to benefit the reputation of the university within the community and increase student success in the workplace after graduation.

Co-op programs are an effective way to expose students to experiences that will foster opportunities for creativity. It is believed that individuals who attend school and co-op placements will gain knowledge and creativity in a variety of disciplines [1]. Thus, implementation of a co-op program at Brock University can address how such programs foster creativity among its university students and ultimately produce more successful graduates.

[edit] What is Creativity?

Creativity can be defined as the process or drive behind any given act of creation, or invention [1]. Being creative is the ability to view experiences from different perspectives while expanding one’s knowledge and skill base through interaction and involvement [2].

Co-op's can be the connection between a student's interest and the opportunity they are given to express their creativity
Co-op's can be the connection between a student's interest and the opportunity they are given to express their creativity

Examples of how co-op programs can foster creativity directly:

  • Motivation has been found as a strong individual factor to promoting creativity, and motivation is often fostered through co-op programs and placements[3].
  • Experience in the workplace provides the opportunity for a student to become familiar and comfortable in the environment they are working, which allows them to perform creatively[3].

It is clear that co-op programs foster positive skills such as creativity in students. The evidence supports efforts be made to incorporate co-op into educational programs.

[edit] What is a Co-op Program?

Co-ops are typically structured to include one year of hands-on work placement experience within their degree, most often it occurs in their third year of study, then students return to school for their final academic year [4] [5]. Co-op programs are designed to alternate academic terms with work terms [6] [7] so that students can develop skills during co-op that can be applied to academic terms [6]. Additionally, students can see how academic material can be applied to real job settings [8] . A good co-op program should individualize each students learning which allows the student to become motivated and actively involved in their own learning [9]. Good co-op programs should also provide lots of support for the student, such as resume building, interview practice [6], role models and feedback [9].

[edit] What does a Co-op Program at Brock Look Like?

Schedule of Psychology Co-op Work Terms - Honors Stream

Fall (September -December) Winter (January-April) Spring (May-August)
YEAR 1 ACADEMIC ACADEMIC VACATION
YEAR 2 ACADEMIC ACADEMIC WORK TERM 1
YEAR 3 ACADEMIC ACADEMIC WORK TERM 2
YEAR 4 ACADEMIC ACADEMIC WORK TERM 3

Schedule of Psychology Co-op Work Terms -Non Honors Stream

Fall (September -December) Winter (January-April) Spring (May-August)
YEAR 1 ACADEMIC ACADEMIC VACATION
YEAR 2 ACADEMIC ACADEMIC ACADEMIC
YEAR 3 ACADEMIC WORK TERM 1 WORK TERM 2
YEAR 4 WORK TERM 3 ACADEMIC VACATION
YEAR 5 ACADEMIC
Take a look at the video link below featuring the placement coordinator from Kingston University in London. She discusses the various benefits of placements for students. Placement programs at Kingston University function similarly to Co-op programs at Brock University. Therefore, the comments are applicable to co-op programs in general .

[edit] What are the Different Types of Co-op's?

Co-op programs are an opportunity for youth to transfer their school-based knowledge to the community and apply it to real life scenarios [10]. Students involved in co-op education are given a valuable opportunity to strength their education by acquiring career-related work experience before graduation. Upon completion of a co-op program students will have obtained practical experience, a network of contacts, and a more comprehensive understanding of available careers in their field of choice[11]. Students are encouraged to take advantage of every opportunity provided to them while on placement to ensure the best possible experience.

The following are described as the four main types of service learning programs. Although service learning programs and co-op programs are different the benefits to students and basic categories of programs are very similar. Therefore, the following types of service learning programs should be used as a reference regarding types of co-op programs. Usually students will find a co-op placement that falls under one of the following general categories.

  • Direct Service: are activities which generate direct contact with individuals in need. This is often the most beneficial for students because they receive immediate feedback and they learn they can make a difference. Examples of this type of co-op service work would be things like working with senior citizens, small children, or the homeless [12].
  • Indirect Experience: are activities that often involve the student working behind the scenes or as part of a team for a greater organization. Access to these experiences are often found in schools and are therefore easily accessible to students. Examples of this type of co-op service work include being a part of a production team, collecting food or toys for a drive or other environmental projects [12].
  • Advocacy: are activities that require youth to take a stand for what they believe in. Examples of this co-op service work include presenting or speaking to the community on behalf of an environmental or political cause [12]. These programs not only give students the chance to develop their presentation skills, but it gives the student an opportunity to deeply analyze why or what they believe in.
  • Community Based Research: are activities that require students to be a part of a pair or team that is responsible for researching and problem solving ideas for existing or new community programs. These programs may also exist within the school environment and there is a large emphasis on research programs and tools with this co-op service work [12].

[edit] The Benefits of Co-op Programs for the University

There is a concern in the short-term goal an undergrad student wishes to pursue after graduation. The main focus of these students is completing their degree as quickly as possible. Therefore after completion, applying for careers is more difficult because certain universities do not foster co-op programs towards students [13]. Co-ops are structured and combined to provide practical work experiences and learning opportunities towards the study of choice. [14].

If the co-op program is effective, institutions not only get to view the success of their students, but also gain a stronger connection with their community and create an excellent reputation by offering simply the best co-op programs to students. [15]

Community engagement is increasingly recognized as a vital component to the future of any university [13]. There are several reasons why community engagement and co-op programs might be important:

  • Co-ops can enhance the profile of the university to the employer
  • Co-ops have the ability to increase recruitment numbers towards the University
  • Co-op allows the University to be well recognized in the community because it is dedicated to fulfilling the needs their students [15].

Researchers have found that:

  • 87% of students reported that the business schools felt a stronger connection to the community
  • 81% reported that reputation of the university is affected by co-op [14].

This is in reference to the tangible, facilitative and emotional support from staff. Student success in the workplace is a result of university programs that offer the ability to apply what they have learned after graduation, [16].

Implementing co-op programs within universities allow the profile of the university to [15].

  • Achieve at a higher academic skill level
  • Enhance the skills and experience

But more importantly co-op programs fulfill their responsibly to demonstrate its commitment to their students by hiring enthusiastic mentors to complete this role [15]. Co-op programs benefit the university as an outstanding school to study knowing the increase levels of job opportunities after graduation[15]

Success seen within students, assistants being supportive towards students academics
Success seen within students, assistants being supportive towards students academics

[edit] Examples

[edit] University of United Kingdom (UK)

University of UK is one of several schools that is known for their outstanding co-op programs offered towards their students. Their results demonstrated that those who did receive co-op programs increased there academic average and job offerings [13]. The researchers results were relied on how certain universities promoted education fairs or open days that encourage the importance of placements and advertise these qualities. These job fairs or open days assisted in awareness of the facility as a whole and provided information on certain co-op programs.

[edit] University of Durham

Durham University is another institution that developed a partnership within the community and developed student co-op programs . They focused on four main topics towards their students:

  • Empowerment: providing support and resources and tackle concerns through interacting with the community
  • Partnership: the trust and reliance on other networks to help different approaches through communication and goals
  • Education: to not only inform students but to widen their role and increase awareness to the public
  • Leadership: Durham University is one of the leading research companies and integrates new approaches to broaden the students awareness of the co-op programs[15]

Durham University fostered creativity through these four facets that increased their students awareness on community factors as well as co-op programs[15]. This facility is simply well recognized for the ability in fostering new approaches within their students on seeing this as a school "commitment" towards students. Co-op programs demonstrates a well deserved standing as an overall view of the university [15].

[edit] Directed towards Psychology

Brock University is a well recognized institution that emphasizes it's psychology students on developing critical thinking and writing. Brock offers a Psychology co-op to students in the honors and non-honor programs. However, the requirements of being accepted into these co-op programs reach a number of high expectations towards there students and this will be indicated below [8]. [17]. .

Teachers and professors can increase school population by desiring to work in the top ranked institutions and also hiring those who are intellectually qualified for the positions [13]. Psychology co-op programs also can assist with other programs to link together in recruiting students before and after graduation terms[13]. Companies also influence and encourage co-op programs as a desirable qualification for career options, although there is little evidence that co-op programs help all psychology students [17].

[edit] The Benefits of Co-op Programs for Students

Employers are searching for applicants who have experience in the field when hiring within their company [18]. However, many university programs do not provide opportunities to obtain experience to foster creativity, therefore employers are reporting a dissatisfaction with graduates as they fear students lack vital workplace skills [19]. Thus, it is important that educational institutions recognize the valuable benefits a co-op program can reap for the university student.


Co-op programs are valuable to the university student because they:

  • Allow exposure to the working environment,
  • Provide the opportunity to develop transferable skills within the workplace[20] [4]
  • Increase student employability [21] [4]
  • Foster motivation and creativity within the academic setting that result in students obtaining a degree that is reputable by employers and the university[20].
  • Co-op programs facilitate development of transferable and interpersonal skills that are rarely taught or facilitated in an academic classroom because the university classroom cannot provide the hands-on experience needed to cultivate such skills[20] [19]

[edit] Main Benefits

Employability Interpersonal and Transferable Skill Development
Obtain a reputable and well recognized degree[20] Motivated to learn [19] [22]
Develop experience applying for jobs [20] Better equipped to manage final year of study [20]
Improve resume [20] Develop communication skills [19] [4]
Gain experience in the workplace [21] Develop self-esteem and self-confidence [19] [18]
Result in higher income and job status [20] [18] Improve problem solving skills [19]
Obtain work quickly after graduation [20] Improve self-presentation skills [4]
Improve how employable individual appears to an employer [20]. Increase creativity in the workplace and at school [20].
Promote personal development and development in the workplace [23][22] Critical thinking skills and overall understanding of course content [22]

[edit] Benefits to Students with Disabilities

Individuals with disabilities are often discriminated against in the workplace when employers are hiring new individuals to work in their company. For example, it is possible that hiring an individual with a physical disability can require costly modifications to the workplace that employers are unwilling to do[24].

Co-op programs are beneficial for students with disabilities as they can develop a better understanding for work demands, improve employability, obtain independence, practice working with others, and reach personal achievement goals [25]. Additionally, employers are exposed to working with individuals with disabilities and can improve their attitudes and biases towards this population [25]. These benefits can improve the likelihood that individuals with disabilities will not be discriminated against based on their disability. On the contrary, their experience and knowledge in the field will make them an excellent candidate for a employment position reducing the influence of the barriers they may experience as a result of their disability.

[edit] Benefits to Students in Psychology

Douglas Maynard, a psychology professor at the State University of New York, wrote an article on the Psi Chi: The International Honor Society in Psychology website addressing the six best characteristics of a psychologist. He indicated that psychologists should be[26]:

  • Skeptical in their research and acceptance of research results that are empirically supported in the literature
  • Open-minded to accepting supported research that may go against their own beliefs
  • Self-aware and to be humble and modest in their work and how they work with their clients
  • Tolerant of various cultural differences
  • Engaging in ethical behaviour and ensuring that you are not causing harm to the client in any way
  • To be generous in their knowledge and share their research findings with others to contribute to advancing the field and practice of psychology.

As research has shown, co-op programs have been found to foster self-esteem and self-confidence that allow psychologists to have a strong sense of self-awareness. They also foster critical thinking skills that improve an overal understanding of course content allowing psychologists to be skeptical of the research they participate in or read and remain open minded to new ideas.

Researchers in the psychology department at Ashton University found that students in their placement program had increased motivation and dedication to learning within the classroom that resulted in increased creativity and employability of the student[21]. These results from Ashton University can be generalized to psychology students at other institutions, including Brock University, suggesting that Brock co-op programs can increase motivation, creativity, and overall employability of its students. Research also shows that not only are students graduating more prepared for the workplace from co-op programs, employers are more likely to recognize these valuable assets as 40% of companies have indicated a preference for hiring students who have completed a co-op placement[20].

Although it is true that not all psychology students pursue the career of a psychologist, it is clear that co-op programs foster many of the skills necessary to develop characteristics that make up an effective professional in this particular field.

[edit] Advantages and Disadvantages of Co-op Programs at Brock University

Brock University offers a co-op program for psychology students in both the honors and non-honors streams. This program has both many advantages and disadvantages to the student in the program. Click here for more information on Brock University Co-op Programs

[edit] Advantages

Amber Knuff, Psychology: “The Brock Co-op Program has given me the ability to explore potential career choices and build invaluable work experience.”
Amber Knuff, Psychology: “The Brock Co-op Program has given me the ability to explore potential career choices and build invaluable work experience.”

Brock University is the third largest co-op university in the province [27]. There are several advantages of the current Psychology co-op program offered at Brock University.

  • There is nearly a 100% placement rate for students in all programs, including psychology, at Brock University – which is considered to be one of the highest placement rates across the whole country.
  • Brock University provides students with a job board and sessions to help build their resume, cover letter, and interview skills. Students can not only apply these sessions for obtaining their co-op placement, but also use them to obtain future employment after graduation.
  • Brock University also screens all placement postings to make sure that students are able to participate in valuable experiences in their work-terms within their program [27].
  • Students gain up to twenty full months of work experience by the time they graduate and possess valuable networks which will increase their chances of finding employment after graduation.
  • Brock’s Psychology co-op opportunities give students a chance to earn income to finance their education, and thus decrease dependency on their student loans[27].
  • Brock Psychology co-op students have an outstanding chance of securing a full-time job out of the co-op program. Sixty percent of all graduate jobs are filled with individuals with co-op work experience and education [27].


Overall, Brock University co-op programs foster individual’s creative thinking by allowing students to have the opportunity to pick their own co-op placement. Students will be presented with situations at their co-op placement where they will have to solve problems in a creative manner, and this skill can be transferred to their academic work and future career opportunities[27]. Brock University co-op students are required to complete a reflection paper with regards to their co-op experience, which allows students to recognize the skills, such as creativity, that they have developed [7].

[edit] Disadvantages

Although there are many advantages to being in the co-op program, Brock only provides initial support when registering for the first work term through the course 0N90 but after this initial course very few supports and feedback are put into place [7]. Students are required to find a work placement on their own and directly send resumes and cover letters to employers with little assistance from the co-op office [7]. However, at other institutions, such as Lambton College, the co-op department is in direct contact with employers and assists in finding placements for their students [28].

[edit] Access to Co-op Program

Not all psychology students are given access to the co-op program. In order to gain acceptance to the psychology co-op program a grade 12 average of at least 80% [7] must be achieved and maintained throughout the program[7]. However, only a 75% average is required to gain acceptance to the psychology program without co-op[29]. This grade difference is a disadvantage to students who have grades lower than this required average because they may benefit from these programs however are excluded from the experience. Since these programs may help improve academic performance by providing practical skills that can be applied to academics and increase a student’s motivation to learn, it would be important for a wide variety of student's to experience the co-op program rather than just students who have high grades. [30] [6].

[edit] Financial Costs

caption Schedule of Co-op Fees

Once students are accepted in the co-op program they must pay an extra $2100 on top of their tuition over the for four years [7]. The payments are divided into $750 in year 1, $750 when registering for the preparation course and $700 when registering for the student’s first work term [8]. The co-op process can be extremely expensive [21] and work terms are not always guaranteed to pay enough to cover the costs of co-op. For example, many of the work terms available in the psychology department that are not human resource positions are actually volunteer positions through non-government organizations (NGO)[7]. Students can obtain financial assistance through OSAP for their academic terms but OSAP will not provide the $700 for their co-op work term. This can be problematic especially if the student is working at a NGO and may not be able afford co-op fees without financial aid[31]. In addition, even if the student does not use the co-op office tools and finds a placement on their own they are still required to pay the $700 [8].

[edit] The Need for Psychology Co-op Programs

There is a need for psychology co-op programs because of the value they provide to the labour market and creativity they foster in university students [19] [4]. Many jobs in the work market request experience in the field as a requirement to obtain employment [21], and as a result students and their families have been reported to pay a significant amount of money to obtain a good placement/internship position [32]. The University of Dreams program charges in some cases up to $8000 to seek out reputable organizations and obtain placements for students[32]. This is a strong example of the need for placement programs as students will spend a great deal of money to obtain experience in service learning programs. The University of Dreams claims that over 70% of students with an internship in their program receive a job after placement [18] thus making the program attractive to recent graduates from post secondary institutions. Overall, students who graduate with their degree in a co-op program indicate that their year spent in a practical placement was extremely valuable and motivated them to work harder in school and in the workplace[4].

Check out the University of Dreams Website!

Although there are advantages to Brock's Psychology co-op program it is important to consider how this program is ineffective for psychology students in order to develop an improved co-op program [33] For example, Brock has invested a lot of time into the Business co-op program and has made it one of the largest in Ontario. [7]. However, this same investment of time should be taken to address the specific shortcomings in the Psychology co-op program in order for Brock University to state it has one of the best Psychology co-op programs around [33]

[edit] Notes and References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Yeh, Y., Huang, L., Yeh, Y. (2011). Knowledge management in blended learning: Effects on professional development in creativity instruction. Elsevier: Computers and Education. 56. 146-156.
  2. Weisberg, R.W. (1993). Creativity- Beyond the Myth of Genius. Freeman and Company. Retrieved from: http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/creativity/define.htm
  3. 3.0 3.1 Shalley, C. E., Gilson, L. L. (2004). What leaders need to know: A review of social and contextual factors that can foster or hinder creativity. The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 33-53
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Neill, Neville T., Mulholland, Gwyneth, E. (2003). Student Placement- structure, skills and e-support. Education + Training, 45 (2), 89-99
  5. Theguardian: Blogging Students. (2013). Why aren’t more students doing sandwich courses?. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2012/apr/30/students-sandwich-course
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Hoffart,N., Diani, J.A., Connors,M., & Moynihan, P.(2006). Outcomes of cooperative education in a baccalaureate program in nursing. Nursing Education Perspectives, 27(3), 136-143
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Brock University. Brock University co-op: Going places.St Catharines, Ontario: Co-op Office
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Brock University (2012)Undergraduate co-op manual 2012/2013. St Catahrines, Ontario: Co-op Office
  9. 9.0 9.1 Cates,C., & Jones, P.(1999). Learning outcomes: The educational value of cooperative education. Columbia, MD: Cooperative Education Association.
  10. Ming, A.C.C., Lee, W.K.M., Ka, C.M.H. (2009). Service-learning model at Lingman University: development strategies and outcome assessment. New Horizons in Education. 57. 3. 1-18.
  11. Brock University (2010). Co-op Programs. Retrieved from http://www.brocku.ca/co-op
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Hentschel, M. (2006). Types of Service Learning Activities. Retrieved from: http://tilt.colostate.edu/sl/faculty/types.cfm
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Patel, Brinkman, & Coughlan, (2012). Work placements and academic achievement: undergraduate computing students. Education & Training, 54(6), 523-533.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Weible, (2009). Are universities reaping the available benefits internship programs offer? Journal of Education for Business, (85), 59-63.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 Russell, Cattermole, Hudson, Banks, Armstrong, Robinson, Pain, Gollan & Brown, 2011. Sustaining community-university collaborations. Gateways: International Journal of Community Research & Engagement .(4). 218-231.
  16. Williamson, Callaghan, Whittlesea, & Heath Improving student support using placement development teams: staff and student perception. Journal of Clinical Nursing, (20), 828-836
  17. 17.0 17.1 Reddy & Moores. Measuring the benefits of a psychology placement year. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 3(5), 551-567.2006.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Dream Careers: Global Internship Programs. (2013). Value of an Internship. Retrieved from http://www.summerinternships.com/overview/value/
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 Wilton, Nick. (2012). Impact of work placements on skills development and career outcomes for business and management graduates. Studies in Higher Education, 37 (5), 603-620
  20. 20.00 20.01 20.02 20.03 20.04 20.05 20.06 20.07 20.08 20.09 20.10 20.11 Patel, Nayna., Brinkman, Willem-Paul., Coughlan, Jane. (2012). Work placements and academic achievement: undergraduate computing students. Education + Training, 56 (6), 523-533
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 Moores, Elisabeth., Reddy, Peter. (2012). No regrets? Measuring the career benefits of a psychology placement year. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 37 (5), 535-554
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Pedagogy in Action (2012). Evidence of Service- Learning Benefits. Retrieved from http://serc.carleton.edu/sp/library/service/benefits.html
  23. TheBIGChoice.com: Student & Graduate Jobs. (2013). Benefits of a Work Placement. Retrieved from http://www.thebigchoice.com/Placements/Advice/Benefits_of_a_Work_Placement.html
  24. Baldwin, M., Johnson, W. G. (1994). Labour market discrimination against men with disabilities. The Journal of Human Resources, XXIX (1), 1-19
  25. 25.0 25.1 Georgiou, Catherine, Elizabeth., Espahbodi, Shima., De Souza, Lorraine, Hilary. (2012). Preparing for the world of work: an exploratory study of disabled students’ experiences of work placement. Journal of Education and Work, 25 (5), 523-536
  26. Maynard, D.C. (2006). The six characteristics of highly effective psychologists. Psi Chi: The International Honor Society in Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.psichi.org/pubs/articles/article_565.aspx
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 Brock University (2010). Considering Co-op? Retrieved from: http://brocku.ca/co-op/future-students-2/what-is-co-op
  28. Lambton College (2013) Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from: http://www.mylambton.ca/mycareer/students/Frequently_Asked_Questions/#_Will_I_be_placed_a_in_a_Co-op_position?__
  29. Brock University (2010). Experience Brock university: Faculty of social science program information. Retrieved from http://experience.brocku.ca/program
  30. Coll, R.K., Taylor, N., & Nathan, S. (2003). Using work-based learning to develop education for sustainability: A proposal. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 55(2), 169-182
  31. Wynne, K. (2013). How to get OSAP. Retrieved from http://http://www.ontario.ca/education-and-training/how-get-osap
  32. 32.0 32.1 The New York Times: Business. (2009). Unpaid Work, but they Pay for Privilege: Gerry Shih. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/business/09intern.html?_r=2&
  33. 33.0 33.1 Anonymous (March 19 2013). Personal Communication: Conducted at Brock University.
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