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Career Services

Learning Agreement and Academic Requirements Handbook

Table of Contents

I. Completing the "Learning Agreement" Form

This form has two purposes: (1) It is an agreement between the student, the employer/supervisor, and the University. The form provides each party the information needed to confirm an effective co-op experience worthy of academic credit. (2) It must be submitted to Career Services for final approval and to register the student for the Cooperative Education course.

The Learning Agreement is an official compact (similar to a contract) between the employer, the University, and the student. A substandard or incomplete Learning Agreement will be returned for revision before being approved.

Career Services has the Learning Agreement available online. The form is available on hard copy at Bouillon 206.

The Learning Agreement Form can be filled out online. Once all the information has been entered, print out the form and take it to the internship supervisor and the faculty coordinator for approval and required signatures. Hand written Learning Agreements are not acceptable. Using the word processor assures a neat professional document and makes corrections easy.

Remember, it is the student’s responsibility, not the faculty co-op Advisor nor the employer/ supervisor, to see that the Learning Agreement is complete, accurate, and is submitted for registration on time.

II. Student Information, Placement Information, and Academic Requirements

1. The Student Information section is self explanatory. The "MAILING ADDRESS DURING INTERNSHIP" is the residence address where you will be during the field experience. Please make sure that your name, address, zip code, and telephone numbers are complete and accurate. Also, see that each item is completed. If there is no information draw a line or use N/A in the space provided.

2. The Placement Information section needs some explanation. The information for this section should be collected from your employer/supervisor before completing the Learning Agreement form. It is not the cooperating company/agency supervisor's responsibility to complete this section. The employing agency's responsibility is to contribute ideas for developing the Learning Plan (Learning Objectives and Learning Activities) and to sign the Learning Agreement form. 

Some students are reluctant to accurately fill out the item, "Student Wage Per Hour." This is a confidential form. It is voluntary information, but it is also the responsibility of Career Services to provide this information for national and University reports. We tabulate totals only, such as total dollars earned by all students and then find averages. For non-paid positions put zero in this block. Do not leave it blank. If you receive other types of reimbursement, such as travel, lodging, meals, or any other stipend, place this information in the item "Other Reimbursements."

If you are on financial aid, Federal Law requires that your income be declared. If you are employed and complete a W-4 form, this reporting will occur through regular employment withholding and a W-2 form at tax time. If you do not complete a W-4 form for the employer, you must declare your income with the Financial Aid Office through a specific form that is available from the Financial Aid Office. Your income may or may not impact your financial aid. Consult the Financial Aid Office to determine the impact it may have.

Other critical items are: "Hours Per Week On Placement," "Number Of Weeks On Placement," "Starting Date," and "Completion Date." Please put a specific number of weeks on placement, whether this is 6, 8, 10 or more. Sometimes the starting and ending dates are different from the dates of the academic quarter, so please put the exact day you will begin and last day of the work experience. This information is used to help decide credit hours for registration.

3. Complete the first two lines of the Academic Requirements section. The Faculty Co-op Advisor will decide the number of credits. The Faculty Coop Advisor will also enter the "Academic Requirements To Be Completed" (term paper/project(s), final (reflective) report, etc.).
A. The course and prefix number will depend on the following criteria:

  1. Students with less than junior level standing, or are seeking a career exploration experience, or are undeclared majors will enroll in 290 level experiences.
  2. Undergraduate majors who have completed a minimum of 90 total credit hours with 10 or more credits in his/her major will register using the departmental prefix and the 490 number.
  3. Graduate students use the departmental prefix and either 490, or 590 (if available).

B. The number of credits to be allowed will be determined by the academic department and the Faculty Co-op Advisor.

  1. The 290 number allows 1-5 credits, the 490, 1-12 credits, and the 590 , 1-8 credits (If doing a FS 590, please contact your department).
  2. Cooperative Education credits are to be awarded on the basis of quality, magnitude, and the level of learning (learning plan, relevant objectives and activities) that take place during the field experience.
  3. For University standardization practice, credits are awarded using a minimum of 40 or more clock hours of approved field experience for each credit earned. Some departments require more hours per credit. Clock hours will include time spent to complete the work phase and the academic phase of the field experience.

The most important aspect in awarding credit is the quality of the "Learning Plan." It is up to the Faculty Co-op Advisor to decide the number of credits to be
awarded.

For instance, you could be working 600 clock hours and receive only two credits based on the quality of your Learning Plan. Reflect on how much work you would do if you were enrolled in a class on campus that offered the number of credits as your co-op experience. Think of your co-op experience as any other class. Developing and completing a well prepared Learning Plan is critical for success. Evaluate your Learning Plan to assure that it supports the number of credits requested.

Due Dates. Be particularly careful on the due dates of your academic requirements if your work experience extends beyond the academic quarter. Academic work turned in after the last day of the quarter will result in an I (Incomplete) or U (Unsatisfactory/ Fail) grade.

  1. If you are on financial aid, your award for the next quarter may be delayed or withdrawn. We urge you to contact the financial aid office to avoid any problems with your financial aid.
  2. If you are graduating and the grade is not a P (Pass) at the time grades are submitted, your degree will be withheld until the end of the quarter that you fulfill all graduation requirements.
  3. It is recommended that you include a note with your final reflective report, or your last document to your faculty, asking them to contact the Financial Aid office of the change of grade. This will expedite the release of your funds in a timely manner and prevent any undue delay.

III. The Learning Plan

The Cooperative Education work experience is similar to a classroom laboratory experience. The classroom now becomes the work environment. A quality cooperative education work experience that provides effective learning requires good planning. Allow adequate time to write and develop a clear and useful learning plan.

The Learning Plan describes the knowledge, skills, competencies, activities, and projects that you propose to accomplish as you participate in and complete the co-op work experience. It is your responsibility to write the Learning Plan. Sometimes students defer this to faculty or their employer. This is your learning experience and your plan.

Writing a well-stated Learning Plan is necessary to bring purpose, direction, and credibility to the co-op work experience. The drafting of a Learning Plan with meaningful Learning Objectives and Learning Activities is the justification for receiving credit.

Your coordinating faculty advisor decides the number of credits based on their assessment of the educational value of your experience as outlined in the Learning Plan. As you complete your Learning Plan, whether you use the following suggested formats or some facsimile of your own design, the following three-phased process is recommended:

IV. Developing the Learning Objectives

A Learning Objective is an educational goal that you set for yourself to be accomplished during your co-op work experience. Learning Objectives refer to a set of statements that clearly and precisely describe the learning you want to accomplish during your work term.You should write three or more Learning Objectives to accomplish during the Co-Op experience.

Learning Objectives should be neither a listing of numerous, narrowly defined trivial tasks, nor so broad and vague that they cannot be meaningfully evaluated. Learning Objectives should be stated in terms of the results you want to achieve.

To write effective Learning Objectives, you must decide what you expect to learn and accomplish during the work experience. The challenge is to tie the learning in the classroom to that which takes place in the co-op work experience so that it is interactive and reinforcing. Effective Learning Objectives should contain two main types of information: (1) A statement of what you expect to achieve or learn through your work experience. (2) An indication of the level of achievement that you expect to obtain, expressed wherever possible in numerical terms (Increase speed by 15%). Use action words that will express what you intend to learn and do. 

Examples of action words and ideas are listed below:

Analyze data, situations, etc...
Assume responsibility for...
Compile statistical data.....
Create and/or design ...
Cross-train to learn...
Develop a knowledge of...
Evaluate programs, etc.
Explain how...
Guide ...
Implement new...
Improve the quality of...
Increase sales, etc. by ...

As you prepare your Learning Objectives, you should ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is my career goal at this time?
  2. What details in this job description will lead to accomplishing my career goal?
  3. What do I want to learn from this co-op work experience or what is the most important thing I want to gain from this experience?
  4. What new knowledge or information do I want to possess?
  5. What new competencies and skills do I want to develop?

**Exercise** On a separate sheet of paper write a couple of responses to each of the preceding questions and activities. As you begin answering these questions, you can start to see the unfolding of your Learning Objectives.

The following is another approach you can use to develop Learning Objectives: If you have a position description available, you should use the following four steps for completing your learning objectives:

Step One: Using the job or position description provided by the employer, list things for which you are responsible. List qualifications and education you must have to do the job. You may complete the same list if there is not a job description but you have general knowledge about the position.
Step Two: Identify the parts of your job or position description that offer opportunity for learning, gaining knowledge, building competencies, developing skills, personal growth, and professional development.
Step Three: From the items listed in the Exercise, begin to draft your Learning Objectives by using the answers you prepared to the five key questions listed above. You will also need to consult your employer/supervisor as to the objective(s) he or she may want you to accomplish.
Step Four: Decide what you will attempt to accomplish. Using action words, write your objectives in final form that will express what you want to accomplish.

Examples of Poor and Acceptable Learning Objectives

POOR OBJECTIVES

I will try to do better in accomplishing assigned tasks by date due.
To become a more efficient technician.
To improve my techniques in the laboratory.

ACCEPTABLE OBJECTIVES

I will learn to manage time better by listing priorities with tasks assigned and scheduling dates to be accomplished.
To complete a monthly maintenance check of the RDR-100 within the allotted time (30 minutes) according to FAA regulations.
To learn to do oxygen demand determination with 100% accuracy.
 

V. Establishing Learning Activities

How will you accomplish your Learning Objectives? Learning Activities are the tasks and assignments you will perform in accomplishing your Learning Objectives. You will need to list one or more Learning Activities for each Learning Objective.

For example, Learning Activities might include: a list of the daily routine of activities; supplementary study in appropriate (specified) journals, texts, etc.; related topic discussions with co-workers, supervisors, etc.; a staff study, a research project, a creative project, or a project designed by the employer/supervisor; preparation of a special term paper to be approved by the employer/supervisor and submitted to the Faculty Co-op Advisor, or other projects as decided. To explain how you plan to do what you said you would do, you will need to develop a list of activities on how you will accomplish your Learning Objectives.

Examples of action oriented learning activities are listed below:

Receive training on...
Read/study/review ...
Research an area related to...
Write term paper, etc...
Interview a specialist on...
Consult with an expert on ...
Maintain daily journal/log.
Perform . . . without supervision.
 

VI. Preparing the Evaluation Plan

Evaluation is the assessment and documentation which measures the achievement of the Learning Objectives, Learning Activities, and the completion of the academic requirements outlined in the Learning Agreement. Part of this assessment is accomplished through co-op evaluation forms provided to your employer/supervisor. These forms must be returned to the Career Development Services Office at the end of the quarter. Decide how the results can be measured. Explain how your learning will be demonstrated and/or evaluated. 

Examples of some action-oriented activities for evaluation are listed below:

I will have regular meetings with my supervisor to check my progress and performance.
Performance will be observed and evaluated by my supervisor.
I will produce a final product (technical report, final (reflective) report, etc.) for evaluation.
My supervisor will evaluate my knowledge, skills, etc. through observation, questioning, and/or testing.

A sample Learning Plan is provided as a suggested format for your use in developing your Learning Plan. Once you have completed your Learning Objectives, Learning Activities, and Evaluation on the practice Leaning Plan, transfer this information to the Learning Plan section of the Learning Agreement. If there is not enough room on the Learning Agreement form for completing the Learning Plan, attach additional sheets. If attachments are used, be sure your name is on each page.


PRACTICE LEARNING AGREEMENT

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: (List what you and your advisor expect you to be able to do by the end of the placement.)

LEARNING ACTIVITIES: (What Reading, Writing, and On-The-Job Activities will you do to accomplish the objectives listed?)

EVALUATION: (What evidence will you provide to your Faculty Co-op Advisor to document that you achieved your Learning Objectives?)
 

SAMPLE LEARNING PLAN

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: (List what you and your advisor expect you to be able to do by the end of the placement.)
EXAMPLES:

  1. Gain a better understanding and become more proficient at completing the Accounting Report, the various accounts, and general accounting procedures.
  2. Understand physiological functions of the heart in relationship to exercise.

LEARNING ACTIVITIES: (What Reading, Writing, and On-The-Job Activities will you do to accomplish the objectives listed?)
EXAMPLES:
1.

A. Complete an Accounting Report twice weekly.
B. Prepare the accounting a nd general ledger information from available sources.
C. Discuss accounting methods and procedures with manager the 15th and 30th of each month.
D. Record the time required to complete the report each week.

2.

A. Administer & interpret EKG & treadmill testing weekly.
B. Monitor individual program participants over the quarter to observe the effects of planned exercise and recovery pulse rates.
C. Review theoretical information from classes such as Diseases of Man.

EVALUATION: (What evidence will you provide to your Faculty Co-op Advisor to document that you achieved your Learning Objectives?)
EXAMPLES:
1.

A. Submit biweekly Accounting Report to supervisor and answer questions concerning the Report and the various accounts.
B. Time in completing the report will decline by at least 30% by end of the co-op work experience as evaluated by supervisor...

2.

A. Display understanding of CPR during consultation with agency supervisor and other health professionals.
B. Improve proficiency in explaining CPR principles to cardiac patients as observed by supervisor and others.
 

VII. Authorizing Signatures

After the learning agreement is completed, several signatures are required: your employer/supervisor, your Faculty Co-op Advisor, and you must sign indicating each individual's agreement to the provisions listed. The Department Chair, Dean and the Associate Director of Career Services sign to show that the agreement meets University standards and requirements and to authorize registration for the Cooperative Education course. Be sure to allow sufficient time for approval by all parties before registration. When registration is completed copies of the "Learning Agreement" will be sent to your advisor, your employer/supervisor, and you. This should take place shortly after the last day of drop/add.

VIII. Revising the Learning Plan

During the first two or three weeks working in your field experience, you should carefully reexamine your situation and decide whether a revision of your Learning Plan is appropriate. Consult with your work supervisor and Faculty Co-op Advisor for approval. To complete the revision, write on a separate sheet of paper a supplement to the Learning Agreement. Copies should be forwarded to your Faculty Co-op Advisor and the Career Development Services Office for approval.

IX. Grades

Your learning objectives, activities, and progress will be monitored and evaluated by your Faculty Co-op Advisor to afford you an effective learning experience. An S or U grade will be awarded upon completion of the cooperative work experience. To receive a letter grade, a written request must be submitted by the faculty advisor along with the learning agreement.

X. Financial Aid

If you are returning to classes after your co-op experience, be sure to notify Financial Aid to prevent any problems in your financial aid award for the next quarter. Further, we recommend that you attach a note to your final report to your advisor asking them to please notify the Financial Aid Office when they submit a "Change of Grade" to assure the timely release of your award. A final phone call to Financial Aid to confirm all has processed as expected would be wise.

Remember that if your co-op work experience ending date or the due dates for your academic assignments are after the end of the quarter, you will receive an IP (In Progress) grade. This could impact financial aid for your next quarter or receiving your degree if you are graduating.

XI. Term Paper/Project

A term paper or project may be required by your Faculty Co-op Advisor. Your Faculty Co-op Advisor or your employer supervisor will help decide the topic and the subject outline for your term paper/report. The term paper, project, or report should enhance the Cooperative Education experience.

As it is part of your academic responsibilities and not part of your work assignment, it should be done apart from your work day. Your daily work may be incorporated as documentation, research statistics or otherwise be an intimate and significant part of your report. You may agree with your faculty advisor to partner with him/her in a specific research endeavor that your co-op experience matches.
Such projects could include:

  1. Organization, planning, and carrying out of a special event or activity.
  2. Original research, staff study, program assessment, market survey, program evaluation, design activity, special computer applications, project analysis, data or information collection, etc.
  3. Training and development activities, organizational behavior projects, corporate culture study, ethics and ethical standard's application, etc.
  4. Literature or book reviews for staff, administrators, professional organizations, etc.

Students must write their report in a scholarly manner following the formal writing style appropriate for your field as instructed by your faculty advisor. The length of the paper is usually guided by the number of credits, about two pages per credit up to 20 narrative pages or as agreed with your advisor.

A wide range of subject matter is permissible provided there is a connection between the topic, your co-op work experience and/or career goals. Tables, charts, graphs, and illustrations are encouraged as long as they are of professional quality. Vocabulary in the report should be professional, using the terms and names any professional in the field would recognize and understand.

XII. Journal or Log

The Faculty Co-op Advisor may require a daily journal or a weekly log of learning activities and competencies you have developed. The focus of the Journal/Log should be on what you have been learning, not just a recitation of the daily trivial duties. Each day you should ask yourself the following:

  1. What am I learning from this field experience?
  2. What new knowledge or information did I gain?
  3. What skills or competencies am I developing?
  4. How is this experience helping me to accomplish my career goals and objectives?
  5. Are the daily work assignments related to my field of study? If so, how? If not, why?
  6. Am I being given real responsibility by my employer? If so, describe. If not, why?

You may also want to respond to the content items outlined in the Final (Reflective) Report section. This should apply to what you are experiencing daily in your co-op assignment. You will find that responding to these questions will make your journal or log a viable and interesting record of the daily learning and growth you have been experiencing.

Using a table like the one shown here may be helpful in guiding your thinking and gaining the most from your journal entries.
 

DateActivityWhoSo What?
Enter the Date in this column.Describe the activity or activities you were involved in on this day in this column.Name the persons you worked with in this column.Reflect on what you learned from this day’s activities or from working with this person or these people in this column.
Check your learning agreement objectives, the topics for the final report, and/or the questions above to help you reflect and document the value of this day.

You may choose to use one page per day in your notebook instead of an open chart like this. Any way you use it, these sections may help you in the documentation of your learning on a daily basis.

XIII. Progress Reports

Faculty co-op advisors may ask for Progress Reports throughout the co-op work experience. Some faculty require progress reports each week, others only once or twice a quarter. Whether the progress reports are oral or written, in person, by mail, FAX, or e-mail should be determined at the time the Learning Agreement is written. What is expected in the progress reports should also be agreed upon before beginning your experience. In any case, you should be ready to discuss each of your learning objectives and learning activities and the progress you are making on each.

XIV. Final (Reflective) Report

You will be required to write a Final (Reflective) Report of the co-op work experience. This is to be a comprehensive report, not a brief outline of your daily duties and responsibilities. A guide of two pages per credit up to 20 pages is appropriate for a thorough reflective report.

Please respond to as many of the topics listed as possible and any others posed by your faculty advisor. This outline suggests observations and reactions you may experience on your job and in the environment in which you are working and living. You will need to refer to them on a daily basis throughout the work period. Items to be included in the Final (Reflective) Report are:

1. Learning Objectives: Discuss each of your learning objectives and learning activities using the following outline (attach any supporting data
you wish.)

a. List each Learning Objective and describe why you selected it and how well you accomplished it.
b. If applicable, relate how and why you would modify the original Learning Objectives you established. If relevant, report how useful the Learning Objectives were to your employer/supervisor.
c. If you are going to continue your cooperative work experience, list new Learning Objectives or modifications of old Learning Objectives you will want to accomplish.

2. Organization Description: Give a brief description of the organization's history, function, and/or service. What part does your unit play in the general operation and success of the organization? Describe how your particular job contributes to the total operation. Portray your relationship with your supervisor and co-workers.

3. Suggested Employer Improvements: In case your employer/supervisor would welcome suggestions, what improvements in the organization's structure, policies, procedures, and operation might you suggest?

4. Benefits of the Field Experience: Develop a statement regarding the way(s) in which your co-op work experience has been of benefit to you (be specific). These may be positive or negative. What strengths and weaknesses have you discovered in yourself because of this co-op work experience?

5. Knowledge Gained: Report the various types of learning you have experienced. What new knowledge(s) did you acquire (a) of personal value, (b) as additions to your field of study, (c) that confirms or conflicts with what is learned in the classroom?

6. Skills and Competencies Developed: Relate the skills and competencies you gained from this co-op work experience. Consider the full range of skills: manual, technical, communication (listening, speaking, writing, reading), human relations and interpersonal.

7. Career Development: In what ways has the co-op work experience confirmed or modified your ideas and plans for a career? What specific area(s) of improvement will you need to accomplish to have success in your chosen career field?

8. Work Attitudes: Based on your observations in your present work environment, how do you characterize the general attitude of employees toward work? Do you believe this represents the typical attitude about work in current society? Explain.

9. Ethics: What effect does ethics in the workplace have on you as you approach your daily work? To what extent were ethical standards stressed in your college classes and by the employer/supervisor whom you worked for? What can be done to improve ethical behavior in the work world?

10. Diversity: We are involved in an ever changing and diverse world. To what degree was diversity emphasized during your field experience? Describe how you experienced diverse ethnic, cultural, and social issues during your field experience. What important diversity issues do you see that will affect the future as you enter the world of work? What can you do to improve cultural and ethnic tolerance at work and in society?

11. Conflict Resolution: Many students find that the expression of their individuality conflicts with how they are expected to look and behave in the workplace. Did you experience this type of conflict or value conflict while you were completing your co-op work experience? Describe those conflicts and how you dealt with them. In the resolution of such conflicts, what principles of psychology, sociology, or common sense are involved?

12. Problem Solving: Identify a problem area where you are working or one that you had to solve while completing your co-op work experience.

a. Define the problem clearly.
b. Outline all the relevant facts surrounding the problem.
c. Provide suggestions for alternatives that would address this problem.
d. Choose your best solution and explain why.

13. Self Analysis: How did this co-op work experience affect your attitude toward yourself, your peers (both work and school), your career development, and pursuing further educational experience?

14. Community Service: What part or role did community service have in your field experience? To what extent was the organization you worked for involved in community service? Describe your individual community service or volunteer activities. Report why there is a need for the community service you participated in. What part will community service play in your future goals and ambitions?

15. Organizational Politics: A struggle for political power occurs in various types of organizations. What examples of this phenomenon have you observed and what effect did it have on your co-op work experience or your decisions about the future?

16. Public Issues: What did you observe in the work world that related to public concern for protecting the environment? Conserving energy? Improving economy? Improving the welfare of individuals, groups, and/or society as a whole?

17. Improving CWU: Identify ways in which CWU can be more responsive to your in dividual needs (additional activities, workshops, classes, counseling services, etc.). How well did your classes within your major prepare you for the career world you will be facing upon graduation? How well did the cooperative work experience prepare you to enter the job market? Be specific (discuss the negative with the positive. Do not discuss personalities or personality conflicts).

XV. Assigned Readings

You should take advantage of the professional literature, newsletters, journals and other printed matter that is available at your work site. Some specific reading may be required by the employer or your faculty advisor. Plan to include an Annotated Bibliography in your academic submissions to your faculty. The following is a guide you can use when writing a review of your readings:

  1. Name or Title of the periodical or book, the author, publisher, and copyright date.
  2. A brief outline (two or three paragraphs) of the main purpose of the book.
  3. A description of the main ideas or themes.
  4. Show the relevancy of the Assigned Reading to your career objective, academic major, and/or the field experience.
  5. What did you learn or gain from the Assigned Reading?
  6. From your readings are there principles, theories, and ideas that you can apply to your life or work? If so, how?