Relationships between cooperative education participation and perceived personal development

Date of Completion

January 1996


Education, Educational Psychology|Psychology, Developmental|Education, Higher




This study was designed to examine the relationships between student participation in cooperative education and perceived personal development as defined by Chickering's vectors of student development.^ Cooperative education is hugely successful on college campuses today. It is one of the fastest growing options among student selections for growth experiences. It has also been shown to be successful in enhancing student persistence (Hirschorn, 1985) and student placement upon college completion (Wilson, 1987). The psychological effects of participation have yet to be examined thoroughly, however.^ This research was designed to compare scores on an inventory designed to measure perceived growth on Chickering's vectors of juniors and seniors at a New England regional state university. The vectors selected for the study were Developing Competence and Developing Purpose, both of which, it was assumed, should be affected by participation in cooperative education.^ Samples of 52 students who participated in cooperative education and 52 students who did not participate in cooperative education were asked to complete the Iowa Student Development Inventories (Hood, 1986).^ The data from the tests were subjected to t-tests and analysis of covariance to address differences on total inventory scores and on subscales related to competence and purpose. Covariates included SAT-M, SAT-V and GPA, gender and age, among others. Regression analysis was used as a post hoc test to ascertain strength of relationships of covariates.^ T-test results revealed that students who participated in cooperative education scored higher on inventory scales. Applications of covariate analyses, however, indicated that much of the difference had to do with differences in covariates, specifically in GPA and SAT scores. Regression exercises confirmed these relationships with these two variables accounting for upward of 50 percent of the variance among the subjects.^ The investigator concluded that additional studies should be conducted to examine various aspects regarding the benefits of cooperative education participation. The psychological aspects of persistence, career advancement and other value-added aspects of participation in cooperative education experiences may very well comprise the design for further studies in this area. ^