Perceptions of risk in co-operative education

Newhook, Rebecca Elizabeth (2012) Perceptions of risk in co-operative education. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This qualitative descriptive case study examined co-operative education coordinators' perceptions of legal and ethical risks in co-operative education programs in Canadian universities. Fourteen coordinators from across Canada participated in one-on-one interviews. Specifically coordinators were asked about their perceptions of their responsibilities and liabilities for the risks that students face in the workplace, the risks the students pose in the workplace, the risks to the employer, the risks to the institution, and the risks to the coordinators themselves. -- The coordinators who participated in this study identified numerous potential risks associated with co-operative education to each of the co-operative partners; however, the student was perceived as the partner who is the most at-risk. Coordinators in general were risk aware and conscious of their role in protecting students. Largely, the coordinators believed that cooperative education is a safe endeavour and examples of extreme situations were very rare. -- Coordinators' opinions varied quite considerably when asked about the extent of their responsibility in assessing and minimizing risk. Generally coordinators understood risk assessment and risk management to be part of their role and agreed that responsibility for minimizing risk should be shared between the coordinator, the employer, and the student, but the balance of who was more and who was less responsible varied considerably. Many coordinators expressed that they were not clear where the boundaries of their responsibilities lay and that they often used their own judgment to determine what they were and what they were not responsible for, rather than being guided by institutional policy. It is likely that the subjectivity in coordinators' perceptions of their responsibilities and variability in understandings of risk and liability result from unclear or poorly articulated formal policies and procedures in many cases. -- Coordinators stated that their universities had done nothing to prepare them to reduce potential risks in co-operative education and that largely their abilities to do so were learned from colleagues or resulted from common sense and previous work experiences. Coordinators rely, in large part, on their own tacit knowledge to reduce risk rather than relying on expert advice from risk managers. Seemingly, university administrators and risk managers are doing little, if anything to participate in risk communication with the great majority of this population of coordinators. Despite the lack of preparation offered by universities, coordinators largely felt supported by the policies of their institution, although there was a strong sense that coordinators sought clarity or more information on policies related to risk.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 11134
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (leaves 106-111).
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: 2012
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Education, Cooperative--Risk assessment--Canada; Education, Cooperative--Canada--Administration; Risk perception--Canada; Vocational teachers--Canada--Attitudes.

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