Developing Standards for Undergraduate University Construction Education Internship Programs
Hager, Cassandrea Jane
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Personally observed variability among construction education internship programs prompted this investigation. The schools of construction that form the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC) encourage its members to provide curricula that produces qualified professionals for the construction industry. There is agreement within ASC that a practical component along with classroom curriculum is needed for construction students?? education (Senior, 1997). Although construction programs have different ways of accomplishing this experiential component, most do have some sort of internship or cooperative program (Chapin, et al., 2003). Construction internships vary greatly from one program to the next ?? in length, supervision, academic deliverables, and whether credit is earned. No common set of internship field experience standards or best-practices guidelines have been developed for construction education. This study was divided into three subproblems. Subproblem One describes the status of construction internship programs currently administered in selected American undergraduate universities. Subproblem Two identifies elements that students, companies and schools perceive to support valuable, satisfying internship experiences. And, Subproblem Three incorporates findings from Subproblems One and Two to identify common elements to provide a structure for construction internship programs, in order to develop a set of guidelines for construction education internship programs. Three constituencies were surveyed: 1) university undergraduate construction programs, 2) construction companies, and 3) students of the respective construction programs. The school survey utilized ASC membership rosters to survey 91 schools, with 56 participating (62%). The company survey randomly sampled 200 of the Top 400 U.S. Construction Companies listed in Engineering News Record??s ENR Sourcebook 2003, with 75 participating (37.5%). The student survey had 31 students from eleven schools in nine different states voluntarily participate. Univariate analyses on only one variable at a time served to describe the survey population, and by extension, the population from which the sample was selected. The data were analyzed utilizing frequency percentages and summary averages including mode and mean. Based on the findings of this study, it was concluded that a set of ??best-practices?? guidelines were needed for construction education internship programs. A set of best practices guidelines for developing construction education internship programs are provided.