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ERIC Number: ED566352
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 255
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: 978-1-3037-6442-4
Inequality and Opportunity in Work-Based Learning
Reilly, Michael Chavez
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University
Work-based learning in college--in the form of internships, cooperative education programs, and apprenticeships--sit at the crossroads of education and employment. It can play a crucial role in shaping a student's transition from school to work. This study explores the extent to which college students participate in work-based learning and the degree to which it is associated with positive outcomes in the labor market. While previous research has examined the role of work-based learning for non-college bound and sub-baccalaureate students, no study to date has conducted a systematic assessment of work-based learning among four year college students. Reports of a widespread increase in internship participation among college students and concerns about their uncertain quality and benefits make a close examination of the characteristics, contexts, and trajectories of work-based learning in college timely and useful. I use two nationally-representative longitudinal data sets (Baccalaureate & Beyond Survey, 1993-97 and Beginning Postsecondary Survey, 1995-2001) to examine the patterns of work-based learning among college students and college graduates. The data sets contain a comprehensive set of variables that capture personal background, academic achievement, major, work experience, college characteristics and economic contexts. Analyses of participation patterns reveal that internships are more common at four year colleges, among full-time college-goers students, and somewhat more concentrated in service sector majors. In contrast, coops and apprenticeships are more prevalent at less-than-four year colleges, more beneficial to employees going to school part-time, and concentrated in technical and applied science majors. I then examine the association of work-based learning with labor market outcomes of college graduates. I employ linear and logistic regression as well as propensity-score weighted models to compare outcomes for similar students. I find that internships, coops and apprenticeships are positively associated with salary but not with likelihood of employment. Furthermore, coops and apprenticeships have twice as large an association with salary as internships. Analyzing subpopulations, I find that for both salary and employment outcomes: a) work-based learning at very selective colleges is associated with the largest benefits; b) work-based learning in larger institutions and larger labor markets are associated with better outcomes and; c) work-based learning in applied technical fields yields larger benefits than work-based learning in service sector fields. The significance of these three dimensions implies that the benefits of work-based learning may vary due to curriculum integration, the institutional networks formed, economies of scale, and the skills required of the work involved. The final empirical chapter examines whether work-based learning plays a role in career outcomes four years after college. While the overall association of work-based learning with salary is no longer significant, for some sub-populations WBL continues to be associated with positive outcomes. The patterns are similar to those found one year after graduation. The best outcomes are produced for students at very selective colleges, students who attend large schools in large cities, and students in academic and applied science majors. Conversely, students at the least selective colleges, students outside of large cities, and students in service sector majors are all less likely to benefit from work-based learning opportunities. I conclude with a discussion of the research and policy implications of these findings. The lack of positive associations of work-based learning for students at less selective colleges and in service sector majors is concerning, as these students are often the least advantaged and most reliant on a college education for economic mobility. To the extent that work-based learning opportunities help the already educationally advantaged, they may be increasing inequality between educational and occupational strata. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (NCES)