An evaluation of the career progress and satisfaction of cooperative education/internship graduates and regular graduates at Mercyhurst College Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/rn301355r

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  • The primary purpose of this study was t determine the difference in "career progress" and satisfaction between cooperative education/internship graduates and non-coop/ intern graduates of a small, private, non-engineering college. A secondary purpose was to determine which other independent variables (age; gender; SAT score; GPA; percent of related work) contributed significantly to any existing differences. The principle data gathering technique was a mail questionnaire. Graduates from 1986; 1988; and 1990 were sampled allowing for a cross-sectional overview of workforce participation. A 61% usable response rate was achieved using Dillman's (1978) Total Design Method. In general, study data offered little direct evidence supporting co-op/internship participation, although participants held slight advantage.; in regard to length of time to obtain employment; working within the field of study; merit pay increases; job promotions; salary levels; and responsibility levels. Two outcomes, further analyzed, however, indirectly supported co-op/intern participation. 1. Co-op/intern participants, in comparison to nonparticipants, began college at a significant disadvantage in terms of SAT score (866 to 922). At graduation, GPAs were similar (3.14 to 3.19) and following graduation "career progress" occurred at the same rate. How was the disadvantage overcome? It is logical to assume, as Siedenberg (1990) did for salary, that cooperative education enabled "disadvantaged" students to catch up with their peers and compete on an even basis following graduation. 2. Percent of related experience as an undergraduate is a main predictor of "career progress." Those with a higher percent of related work were more likely to be employed within their field of study and were more satisfied. Associated with this, co-op/intern students reported a significantly higher percent of related experience. In addition to the previous findings, gender provided significant results in regard to salaries and promotions. Males "outperformed" females, apparently continuing an existing pattern of gender discrimination. Integrating all of the study data, it seems plausible that females might overcome this gender "disadvantage" by participating in coop and increasing their percent of related work experience.
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