Student perceptions of workplace communications during co-operative workterm experiences

Francine K. Schlosser, University of Windsor
Robert McNaughton

This article was orginally published in the Journal of Cooperative Education and Internships, Vol. 39 2005. Copyright Cooperative Education & Internship Association, Inc


Co-operative education gives students the opportunity to observe important interpersonal skills while applying their technical knowledge. Eighty students on their second and third co-op work terms described communication incidents in face-toface,mobile text, and mobile voice situations perceived to have shaped relationships with their managers. Richness is provided by a qualitative analysis that asks students to express their feelings about how they are talked to by their supervisors. Results identify some apparent themes with respect to the use of message content and tone, media selection and message timing. They also show that students appear to value face-to-face communication and reveal that social extra-role relationships are important to student feelings of selfefficacy and attributions of manager effectiveness. These connections may form the basis for student development of their own communication styles. The results lead to suggestions of how to make the learning of communication skills more tangible within co-op programs.