co-op, cooperative education, degree completion, persistence, graduation, experiential learning


Baccalaureate degree completion statistics are surprisingly low. National four-year graduation rates hover around 38%, and six-year graduation rates have remained steady at approximately 63% (Berkner, He, & Cataldi, 2002). At the University of Central Florida, as at many public research institutions, the numbers are even lower. Literature has emerged, however, which suggests that students who participate in cooperative education programs may experience increased motivation to continue the formal education process (Avenoso & Totoro, 1994; Schambach & Dirks, 2002; Somers, 1986). This study investigated the effect of co-op participation on undergraduate degree completion in the context of several risk factors for attrition. The population for this study was the cohort of full-time, bachelor's degree-seeking undergraduate students who entered the University of Central Florida as first-time-in-college (FTIC) students in the fall semester of 1999. Group One (Co-op Students) consisted of full-time FTIC students who successfully participated in the University of Central Florida Cooperative Education program and Group Two (Non-Participants) included full-time FTIC students with at least 20 credit hours completed and consistent grade point averages of at least 2.5 who did not participate in the University of Central Florida Cooperative Education program. The additional parameters on the Non-Participant group were included to control for any potential differences between the two groups due to increased requirements for participation in the co-op program. The two groups arrived at the University of Central Florida with nearly identical high school grade point averages and standardized test scores, and also were remarkably similar in age, ethnic composition, and college at entry. Results indicated that students who graduated within four years seemed to do so regardless of co-op participation, but for those who took longer, there was a correlation between co-op and degree completion. There was also some evidence to suggest that internships are associated with degree completion as well. Further, some of the known risk factors for attrition (lower high school grade point average, male gender, and non-White/non-Asian ethnicity) may be mitigated by the student's participation in their institution's co-op program, though additional research in this area is suggested.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Tubbs, LeVester


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education


Educational Research, Technology, and Leadership

Degree Program

Educational Leadership








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)