Algonquin College Cooperative Education Work Term Reflection Guidelines

This document is designed to help you reflect on the learning experience you had during your cooperative education work term. Included are tips to help you organize, reflect, and draft your final copy for submission on Brightspace. This report will be marked by your Faculty Co-op Coordinator to evaluate your learning while on work term.

Overview

Your work term reflective paper is the capstone assignment that is designed to assist you in reflecting on what you learned in your co-op work term, how it connects with your classroom experience, and what sort of insight your work experience may have given you into your future career.

This reflective paper must be completed in order to earn a passing grade for your work term.

Through writing this reflective paper, you will demonstrate the core Embedded Knowledge & Skills (EKS) for this course:

  • Communication information and ideas in writing.
  • Reflect on your own skills, strengths, and weaknesses.
  • Perform self-evaluations and evaluations of your workplace.
  • Integrate theoretical concepts and practical experience.
  • Clarify future learning objectives and career goals.
  • Exhibit strong knowledge of the company and work environment.

Process

Use the following steps as a guide to complete your work term reflective paper

  1. Discuss your reflective paper with your supervisor/manager early in your work term
  2. Maintain regular notes of your activities and experiences.
  3. Prepare an initial draft of your reflective paper.
  4. Edit, review, and share with a peer for comments and feedback.
  5. Use this feedback to prepare a final draft.
  6. Proofread for accuracy, completeness, spelling, and grammar.
  7. Include the reflective paper as part of the Work Term Report along with the Work Term Self-Assessment and Employer Assessment.

Requirements

Your reflective paper should contain between 2,000 to 2,500 words. More important than length, however, is the clarity, accuracy, and completeness of the report.  Your reflective paper is not merely a technical description or an informational report; it should contain your own ideas and be an analysis of your work term. Many ideas are better explained using graphs, charts, diagrams or photographs, instead of words, so please be sure to add visuals wherever possible. Aligning with Algonquin College’s plagiarism policy (AA20: Plagiarism), all content in this report must be your own work or properly cited in the works cited section.

Reflective paper contents and format

The main elements of the reflective paper are:

  • Title page
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Description of work experience
  • Examination of learning experience
  • Self-Assessment (articulation of learning)
  • Recommendations
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited
  • Appendices  (if applicable)

1. Introduction

The introduction is an important part of the report. It should:

  • Define the purpose of the reflective paper
  • Outline the order in which the topics will be presented
  • Provide any required background information

2. Description of work experience

In this section, please reflect on your entire work experience including the tasks you were responsible for, relationship with your supervisor and other co-workers, the working environment, and how this experience has helped you connect with the lessons from your academic studies and your future career path.  Please include sub-headings for discussion of the following topics:

  • Description: Provide an overview of the organization/company, work environment, and its products/services. Describe what took place during your work experiences by answering the following questions:
  • What would a typical day entail?
  • What did you and others do/not do?
  • Roles and responsibilities: Detail daily job responsibilities and any special projects you were involved with. Describe the knowledge and skills you used or learned on the job and how they connect to your program of study.
  • Learning Objectives: In this section, please review the learning objectives that you established with the assistance of your supervisor at the beginning of your work-term. List each learning objective and comment on if you were able, or not able, to achieve it. Spend some time outlining why you were able, or not able, to meet these objectives. What would you do in your next co-op experience to ensure your objectives were both attainable and challenging? 

The following sections asks you to think critically about your work term experience. Completing these two sections (Examination of learning experience and Self-Assessment) requires time, consideration, and reflection. Please include sub-headings for discussion of the questions.

3. Examination of learning experience

Critically examine your work experience by answering the following questions:

  1. How did this experience make me feel (positively and/or negatively) before starting the work experience and upon completion?
  2. In what ways did you succeed or do well?
  3. In what ways were you challenged?
  4. How has your perspective/thoughts changed in light of your experience?

4. Self-Assessment (articulation of learning)

Learning about job specific knowledge and skills

  1. What job-specific knowledge and skills did you learn through your work experience?
  2. How did you learn it (tasks, situations, feedback mechanisms) and why is it important?
  3. How will you apply your new knowledge going forward?
  4. What future learning or work place experiences do I need to attain my career goals?

Learning about yourself

  1. What did you learn about yourself through the workplace?
  2. How did you learn it (tasks, situations, feedback mechanisms) and why it is important?
  3. How will you apply your new knowledge going forward?
  4. How has this experience contributed to my academic and professional development?
  5. How relevant are my academic studies to the job? (This can include examples of when your college education made you well prepared, and also when you felt underprepared for your on-the-job requirements.
  6. How have I developed, or improved my job search skills within my industry of study?

5. Recommendations

In this section, you can offer recommendations to your employer regarding your work term. This can range from working environment observations to communication style, to feedback and mentoring. This section can also include areas you hope to see added to the curriculum of your program, based on your experience working in the industry.

6. Conclusion

This section should briefly summarize your main points, recommendations, and key reflections made throughout the course of the report.

7.  Referencing and Writing Style

Your report should include the following:

  • Title page
  • Title of Report
  • Prepared by  Name of Student, Program of study (e.g. Sam Brown, Bachelor of Interior Design)
  • Specify work term (e.g. Summer 2020)
  • Institution Name (e.g. Algonquin College)
  • Name of Employer (e.g. Canada Revenue Agency)
  • City, Province (e.g. Ottawa, Ontario)
  • Table of Contents: This section indicated the page number of all the sections in the reflective paper. For assistance on creating a table of contents, please read these step-by-step instructions from Microsoft.
  • Works Cited: A works cited list is required to acknowledge sources of information.
  • Appendices: This is the place for additional content (detailed calculations, charts, statistics, etc.) that needs to be included in the report, but is not an integral part of the main body. Sections of the Appendix should be arranged in the same order in which they are first identified in the text and should be lettered “Appendix A”, “Appendix B”, etc. Each item should be listed under “Appendix” in the Table of Contents.

Evaluation of the Work Term Reflection  

Your report will be evaluated by the Faculty Co-op Coordinator based on the following 5 criteria:

  1. Introduction & Conclusion
  2. Description of Work Experience
  3. Examination of Learning Experience
  4. Self-Assessment (Articulation of Learning)
  5. Presentation, Referencing, and Writing Style

Rubric

Please review the attached rubric for grading scheme.

The mark given is either a pass or fail.

Please note:  The staff in the Co-op Department cannot grant you an extension – only the faculty coordinator can do that.  Before submitting your reflective report as part of the Work Term Report assignment, please visit your Work Term course on Brightspace as your faculty coordinator may have provided specific instructions for your program.

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