Does prior project management work experience have an effect on the academic achievement of university students in the classroom?

This study compared the academic achievement of students who participated in a cooperative education program (co-op students) with the academic achievement of those students who did not participate (nonco-op students).The general hypothesis was that students who gained knowledge through co-op work experience would use that knowledge in subsequent coursework and achieve a higher grade point average (GPA) than students who did not participate in the co-op program.Historical data were analyzed on students (N = 460) who graduated from the building science program at Auburn University from 1996 - 2000.The independent variable was STATUS (co-op vs. nonco-op) and the dependent variable of academic achievement was measured by the GPA of five sequential project management classes. Does participation in a co-op program make a difference in the university student's academic achievement?Moreover, is there a difference in academic achievement between students who participated in the cooperative education program and those who did not? There was a significant difference (at the.05 level) between co-op students' and nonco-op students' PM GPA mean scores for two of the four groups.Interestingly, the co-op participation did not have an effect on group G1, comprised of the lowest range of AGPA scores, nor group G4, with the highest range of AGPA scores.The co-op participation did have an effect on the two groups, G2 and G3, in between the highest and lowest ranges.The results seem to suggest that the treatment, co-op participation, did not have an effect on the weakest academic group.The students in group G4 had high academic achievement before they entered the building science program and may have obtained high academic achievement in their coursework whether they participated in the co-op program or not. Conversely, the students in group G1 had low academic achievement before they entered the building science program. These students may have had a much harder time grasping the academic content of the five project management classes and therefore, the co-op participation did not have a large enough influence on their GPAs to be significant.
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