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The following includes the abstracts of some of the Center's proposals now under consideration at various funding sources:

Cooperative Education as a Mean to Enhance Students’ Self-Efficacy

Joe Raelin and Rachelle Reisberg, Director of the Programs for Women of the College of Engineering at Northeastern University, are collaborating with Profs. Jerry Hamann and David Whitman of the College of Engineering, University of Wyoming, on a Hewlett Foundation study to determine the influence of cooperative education, as well as academic advising and mentorship, on the self-efficacy of students in undergraduate engineering. The purpose of this study is to isolate those factors that contribute most to the development of three positive self-efficacy dimensions thought to be most relevant to academic performance and retention: work, academic, and career self-efficacy. The study, in particular, will determine if cooperative education alone enhances efficacy controlling for pre-existing conditions among students enrolling in a cooperative education school as well as controlling for alternative supports for students to assist them during their undergraduate experience. One of the schools participating in the study, Northeastern, requires cooperative (co-op) education whereas the University of Wyoming does not.

The following describes some of our other proposals that are in development:

Practice-Oriented Education as Situated Learning - The Center in conjunction with the other Northeastern departments is interested in determining whether the social and situated nature of learning from work experience can produce subsequent beneficial learning outcomes that can be applied across other disciplines and educational settings at the undergraduate, graduate, and even adult learning levels. The proposal, then, seeks to discover whether practice-oriented forms of education, that intentionally attempt to integrate work experience and classroom education through reflective practice, produce learning outcomes that, in their own right, are distinct from yet also augment traditional classroom learning outcomes. The proposed study is based on a model grounded in social learning theory.

Pathways to Work Self-Efficacy and Retention of Women in Undergraduate Engineering - In this proposal, the Center hopes to collaborate with other institutional partners to investigate the hypothesis that women’s participation in formal work experiences while enrolled in college (e.g., cooperative education and internships) leads to enhanced self-efficacy and an increased likelihood of retention. Accordingly, the study will test a model that demonstrates how demographic variables, co-op and internship programs, contextual supports and barriers, and academic and work self-efficacy interact to predict retention.

Increasing the Self-Efficacy, Learning, and Retention of Under-Represented Students in Engineering through Practice-Oriented Education - In this proposal, the Center would partner in a research study designed to investigate the hypothesis that participation in formal work experiences through practice-oriented education programs, supplemented by enriched concurrent reflective experiences, such as peer reflection and mentorships, leads to enhanced self-efficacy, augmented learning, and an increased likelihood of retention, particularly among minority students who are historically under-represented in engineering. The enriched reflective features would be developed and implemented at two sites to test their effects on self-efficacy, learning, and retention.



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