Faculty FAQs1. What is the role of a faculty coordinator?
As a faculty coordinator, you will play an important role in a student’s co-op. You will not only approve the student’s site selection and job description in relation to the amount of academic credit, but also work with the student to complete a learning agreement, which must be turned in to the Cooperative Education Office no later than three weeks after employment has begun. We ask that you stay in contact with the student throughout the semester. One your most important responsibilities is helping the student process new experiences and challenging situations.
If possible, you should conduct at least one on-site visit. Please notify the Cooperative Education Office if you will be unable to make this visit or if your student is working at a great distance from campus. An alternative might be a telephone “visit.” Contact the Cooperative Education Office for more information.
You will also be asked to review several formal assessments, including student and employer preliminary and final assessments. Assessments, the final academic project, and satisfactory completion of the objectives stated in the learning agreement determine the student’s final letter grade.
2. What are some advantages to being a faculty coordinator?
Cooperative Education gives you a unique opportunity to work one-on-one with students interested in gaining career-related work experience. You will have the chance to significantly influence the direction a student takes, as well as gain a better understanding of current employment realities for students and alumni.
Compensation is also available to defray expenses for on-site visits, including lodging, meals, parking and mileage. During spring and fall semesters, faculty coordinators voluntarily participate as part of their teaching duties. Faculty members participating in the summer receive stipends for each student and/or each on-site visit. The summer stipend is based on the number of students, completion of learning agreements, and the length and distance of the on-site visits.
3. What is a learning agreement?
A learning agreement specifically outlines the learning objectives for the student, as well as the evaluation procedures. The agreement should be very detailed to prevent any misunderstanding about what is required at the end of the term, as this agreement greatly influences the student’s final letter grade. The learning agreement must be signed by the student and faculty coordinator and returned to the Cooperative Education Office no later than three weeks after employment begins.
Learning objectives must have measurable outcomes, so please consider what kind of evidence students can present to show that each objective has been met. This will help us avoid conflicts over differing expectations at the end of the term. Time guidelines should also be negotiated and entered on the form before signing the learning agreement.
4. What is the required academic project?
The length and complexity of a co-op final project is typically detailed in the learning agreement and determined by the amount of credit associated with work-related learning, the student’s skill, knowledge and maturity, as well as the nature of the experience.
Encourage your student to think about the types of tangible evidence they may create during the course of their experience. We encourage you to require active documents like portfolios or journals. However, traditional research papers may also be appropriate in certain situations. Quantify the academic project as much as possible to avoid conflicts in expectations by either at the end of the term.
5. What do I need to know about assigning a final grade?
Students receive a letter grade for Cooperative Education. Occasionally, a student’s co-op may extend beyond the end of the term for which he or she registered. In this case, you may designate an IP (in progress) status and avoid having to file an Incomplete Contract Form with the Registrar. This most commonly occurs during the shortened summer term. IP status may then be changed to an appropriate letter grade upon completion of the experience and assessment of the student’s academic project.
An I should be given if the actual work experience is complete but the student has not completed all of the course requirements due to serious and prolonged illness or other unavoidable emergencies. According to the Catalog, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the faculty coordinator and initiate the grade of I and the makeup work. If justified, an I is accepted in the Office of the Registrar on an Incomplete Contract form.
Faculty Coordinators may also elect to award an F based upon the student’s academic performance, including employer’s assessment. A grade of F means that a student must repeat the Cooperative Education in order to receive credit.
6. Is there a checklist I can follow for this entire process?
Yes. Here’s what you should be tracking for the student you are advising:
- Determine how a co-op fits into the student’s overall academic plan.
- Check the student’s eligibility, including GPA and number of completed credits.
- Brainstorm possible employers or volunteer positions with the student.
- Approve the student’s employment or volunteer site.
- Develop Learning Agreement terms and file it with the Cooperative Education Office no later than three weeks after employment has begun.
- Review preliminary student and employer assessments.
- Conduct on-site visit when possible.
- Review final student and employer evaluations.
- Evaluate final academic project.
- Submit final letter grade.