Dr. Drysdale Chairs Prestigious Research Group
Professor Maureen Drysdale, associate professor of psychology at St. Jerome’s University and research associate with the Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Cooperative Education (WatCACE) has dedicated a considerable amount of time over the past two years to founding and chairing the World Association for Co-operative Education (WACE)’s International Research Group (IRG). The WACE IRG was created with the aim of advancing research in the field of co-operative and work integrated education (CWIE).
The research that members of this group conduct directly benefits Co-operative Education & Career Action (CECA) at Waterloo by allowing CECA staff to acquire practical insights that can improve the co-op program for the institution, students, and employers. Increased research in the area of CWIE helps CECA staff to learn more about many relevant topics, such as: the impact of CWIE on students, discerning and managing stakeholder expectations, how to make students more marketable to employers, and how certain co-op processes can be improved.
In 2012, Professor Drysdale was asked to join the WACE Board of Directors and chair this group because of her global reputation as an expert on the topic of CWIE. In the past few years, she has received two prestigious awards for her work, the Co-operative Education and Internship Association (CEIA)’s Ralph Tyler Award (2008) and the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE)’s Graham Branton Award (2010), both for the outstanding research she has contributed to the field.
Professor Drysdale has been involved in numerous impactful studies that explore issues such as the effectiveness of CWIE models on students’ self-concepts and marketable post-education employment skills, and what learning outcomes are achieved through participation in co-operative education programs. More recently, along with her graduate student, Margaret McBeath (SPHHS), Drysdale has been examining the mental health and well-being of co-op and non-co-op students at the post-secondary level.
In addition to her active research work, Professor Drysdale continues to be extremely busy and effective as the chair of the WACE IRG. Although the group was founded only two years ago, it now boasts more than 50 members from across the globe (North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Africa) who actively research issues that are essential to advancing co-operative and work-integrated education.
In recent months, the WACE IRG has accomplished an impressive array of activities. Members organized and attended an international research symposium in Sweden (June 2014), created a new grant, and established an award for the best paper presented by a CWIE researcher. The establishment of other awards, grants, and scholarships, as well as organizing and attending other conferences are also on the horizon for members of the IRG. The group is also establishing an online database of all CWIE publications. University of Waterloo IRG members Dr. Rocco Fondacaro and Judene Pretti are leading this ambitious project.
With respect to the IRG Grant, the group is especially interested in proposals that explore: how multiple stakeholder needs interact in a CWIE context; how social and political trends influence both policies and processes at the institutional level, as well as student employability; and the effectiveness of CWIE programs at various institutions.
If you would like to learn more about the group, please visit the WACE IRG web page.
Faculty, staff, and graduate students interested in pursuing CWIE-related research are encouraged to connect with Prof. Drysdale, Rocco Fondacaro, director of student and faculty relations at CECA, or Judene Pretti, director of WatCACE.
by Kaitlyn Holbein
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