Co-op Learning Goals and Reflection

By: Kristen Eckman

Have you recently accepted a co-op offer? Congratulations! The next steps in the co-op process are to:

  1. Register for co-op on LeopardWeb

You must register for your co-op course on LeopardWeb just like you would for any other class. Make sure you select the correct section that corresponds to your major (see your Co-op Advisor if you are unsure of which one to select) and the correct course:

  • Co-op 3000 for an optional co-op (PRE-CO-OP WORK TERM)
  • Co-op 3500 for the first required co-op (COOP EDUCATION 1)
  • Co-op 4500 for the second required co-op (COOP EDUCATION 2)
  1. Report your hire on WITworks
  • Log on to WITworks using your WIT email and password.
  • In the left-hand menu select: “My Account” > “Co-op” > “Report Co-op Hire” OR “Add New”

In the Report of Hire, you must construct your Learning Goals for the semester. Please refer to our past blog written by Advisor, Sara Dell on How to Write Learning Goals for Co-op and Why if you are unsure of how to start.

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Below are a few examples of Learning Goal topics grouped by major:

All Majors

  • write clearly and persuasively to communicate their scientific ideas clearly
  • test hypotheses and draw correct inferences using quantitative analysis
  • evaluate theory and critique research within the discipline

Sciences

  • apply critical thinking and analytical skills to interpreting scientific data sets
  • demonstrate written, visual, and/or oral presentation skills to communicate scientific knowledge
  • acquire and synthesize scientific information from a variety of sources
  • apply techniques and instrumentation to solve problems

Engineering

  • explain and demonstrate the role that analysis and modeling play in engineering design and engineering applications more generally
  • communicate about systems using mathematical, verbal and visual means
  • formulate mathematical models for physical systems by applying relevant conservation laws and assumptions
  • choose appropriate probabilistic models for a given problem, using information from observed data and knowledge of the physical system being studied
  • choose appropriate methods to solve mathematical models and obtain valid solutions

3. Go on co-op! Enjoy your semester and invest in your learning with goals in mind.

4. Reflect on your Learning Goals

Reflection can (and should) happen at any time throughout your co-op semester. Reflection is a way to engage deeper in your learning and will help you to absorb more from your work environment.

One way to begin the reflection process is to ask yourself questions:

  • What was a significant learning accomplishment for you this semester?
  • What did you discover about yourself as a learner (or social scientist, mathematician, engineer, problem solver or whatever the subject area)?
  • What was your favorite mistake and what did you learn from it?
  • What feedback did you get from your supervisor or colleagues that was important to you?
  • What are strengths you noticed about yourself?
  • What are next steps in your learning journey?
  • Looking ahead to the next semester (academic or co-op), what are some challenges you imagine?
  • What strengths can you bring to meet those challenges?

Keep in mind that there is no correct answer to these questions, rather use these as a guide to distinguish from what you hoped to learn, to what you actually learned and help you to develop your long-term career goals.

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For even more information on how to report and register for co-op, refer to our resource pages:

Co-op Action Guide

Registering for Co-op

As always, to make an appointment with your Co-op + Career Advisor call the front desk at 617.989.4101 or stop by the CO-OPS + CAREERS Office during Spring 2019 Drop-In Hours:

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 1:30pm – 4:00pm while classes are in session.

How to Write Learning Goals for Co-op and Why

By: Sara Dell

So, you landed a co-op!  Congratulations!  Now to make it count you need to do a few last things by the deadline, before heading off to your first day of the co-op job.

  1. Register for the co-op course (so the co-op will be on your transcript, and count towards graduation) and
  2. Report the co-op on WITworks (e.g. under My Account>Co-op>Report Co-op Hire or ADD NEW).

The second is to write three learning goals about what you hope to learn while on co-op. This is where most students get stuck.  To avoid that quicksand . . . here is some information on how to write these goals, why you want to, and how to do it well.

Each learning goal should answer the following questions:

On this co-op . . .

  • What do I want to learn?
  • What will I do to achieve my learning goal?
  • How will I demonstrate what I have learned?

Still not sure where to start? Try using the SMART format. SMART is an acronym you can use as a guide to]] creating your goals.  It stands for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable)
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic, and resourced, results-based)
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

For more information, including an expanded definition of each of the words above and examples, check out this article.

Now you know how to write these goals, but why would you want to?  There are more than a few good reasons . . .

Writing these goals will help you focus on what you want to achieve and how you will go about doing it.  At the end of the co-op you are going to add this experience to your resume, writing learning goals will help to ensure you have some great accomplishments to add, which in turn will help you land your next co-op or full-time job after graduation.

Since you are writing these goals as part of your Report Co-op Hire, your co-op supervisor will also review and approve of them, which means . . . they are aware of your goals and can better support you to achieve them.

Lastly, to pass the co-op course and have it count towards one of your graduation requirements, you will need to complete a student self-evaluation in the last few weeks of your co-op.  This is where these goals could come back to haunt you if they are not well-written or well thought out.  Spend some time up front on your goals, so when you are on the job, the evaluation will be easy.

Caveat: Sometimes you can have the most well written goals, but due to changes in the business, you may get pulled onto a different project, and end up learning something different.  Don’t panic.  You still learned something, and you can write about what you learned instead. And, if you still have that goal on your bucket list, keep it in mind as something you are looking to do in your next co-op or full-time job.

Lastly, reflecting on your co-op, what you hoped to learn and what you actually learned, will help you think about your own career what you want to do next (and sometimes what you definitely don’t want to do ever again).  These are all valuable things to know.  Now onwards to write those learning goals!