Coop/DO Program Components
Teacher-coordinators are educators who coordinate school-based and work based learning experiences for students enrolled in Cooperative Education. It is highly recommended that the teacher/coordinator hold a Cooperative Education/Diversified Occupations Teaching Endorsement. If any students in the program are employed in one of the Hazardous Occupations Orders Exceptions available to 16 and 17 year olds, the teacher/coordinator must hold this endorsement in order for the program to meet the Nebraska Department of Education approved status.
Student-learner is the name given to students enrolled in Cooperative Education. Three important criteria for student selection include: (1) a desire to participate, (2) a tentative career objective, and (3) an ability to benefit from on-the-job training. Only students who meet these criteria should be selected to participate.
Related Classroom Instruction or Seminar
The related class/seminar should be taught by the teacher-coordinator, complement the student-learners' on-the-job learning experiences, and be developed to meet the specific needs of each student. The class may focus on a specific occupational area (marketing, industrial technology, business, ag, family and consumer sciences) or a combination class which is referred to as Diversified Occupations. It should be designed to improve personal and social skills, provide needed basic education, and develop relevant occupational skills and knowledge. Occupationally specific instruction is an important part of the related class; however, research has found that employers believe that the related class should have a broad focus and should include topics such as computational skills, communication skills, computer and other technological skills, good work attitudes, appropriate work behaviors, job seeking skills, and job coping skills.
Supervised On-The-Job Training
This training, provided by employers during their usual working hours, should involve the application of theory and specific skills common to the occupation. Indicators of quality on-the-job training include: (1) students are paid for their work, (2) the job content is meaningful, (3) adequate safety instruction is provided, (4) the job challenges the student's ability, (5) the work is related to the student's career/occupational choice, (6) the duration of the work experience is long enough for the student to perform a variety of meaningful tasks, (7) job activities foster responsibility, (8) the job provides an adequate amount of work to keep the student busy, and (9) the instruction is sequentially planned. In addition, student-learners must be employed and paid in conformity with federal and state laws and regulations and in a manner that does not result in their exploitation.
Selected Training Stations
Businesses that provide training experiences for student-learners are called training stations and should be selected after the teacher-coordinator has visited the site and determined it would be a meaningful and safe learning environment. Employers should be given the opportunity to interview and hire the student-learners of their choice; however, student-learners cannot be hired if it causes the displacement of a regular workers. A specific training sponsor should be designated who will be directly responsible for supervising the student-learner while they are on-the-job.
Training agreements should include student's name, address, telephone number, date of birth, age and social security number; date employment begins; program completion date; starting rate of pay; student-learner's job title; employer's name, address, telephone number; name of student-learner's supervisor; conditions for employment; an equal opportunity statement; and signatures of the student, parent, teacher/coordinator, and employer.
The alteration of study and work through Cooperative Education must be well planned to ensure that student-learners acquire the skills needed for employment. The teacher-coordinator, student-learner, and training sponsor should develop a list which spells out the attitudes, skills, and knowledge which are needed by the student-learner to successfully obtain his/her occupational objective. Once these competencies have been identified, the coordinator and the training sponsor should decide if they are to be learned in the related class, on-the-job, or both. This detailed outline of sequentially planned tasks becomes the training plan. Documentation of safety instruction is a critical part of the training plan. The student-learner should be informed of the level of competency that he/she will be required to demonstrate.
Close supervision of student's school site learning and work site training must be coordinated if both are to contribute effectively to the their education and employability. Teacher-coordinators are responsible for the health, safety, welfare and educational progress of their students; consequently, a work schedule that permits adequate time for supervision of student-learners on the job is essential. Coordinators must maintain written schedules of regular visits to training stations. The following documents should be kept on file for a minimum of five years: training agreements, training plans, student earnings reports, student evaluations, visitation reports, age certificates, and documentation of safety instruction (lesson plans, student tests, etc.)
The awarding of credit for related class progress and on-the-job performance is recommended for cooperative education student-learners. Secondary students must receive a separate grade for the related class and for their on-the-job training. The training sponsor should assist the coordinator when evaluating a student-learner's progress toward the competency attainment described in the training plan, but the ultimate responsibility remains with the teacher-coordinator.
An advisory committee comprised of representatives from business, industry, and the community can assist a teacher-coordinator by: identifying possible program goals and objectives, reviewing the instructional program, determining expected program outcomes, assisting with student placements, furnishing equipment and supplies, gaining support and assistance for public relations efforts, promoting the program, identifying community problems and training needs, updating the teacher-coordinator, and providing community feedback.