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Work Portfolio Requirements

Our era is being shaped by massive demographic, economic, linguistic, and digital disruptions that are challenging long-held assumptions about the employment landscape of the 21st Century. To lead lives of significance and service in this emerging world, students must develop different skills and capacities than those of previous generations. Beyond the deep content knowledge that has always been central to Antioch’s rigorous liberal arts approach, co-op students are encouraged to develop robust collaborative, cross-cultural, and interdisciplinary capacities in order to collect data, communicate ideas, and test proposed solutions to global problems.

The cooperative work experience is underpinned by required Work Portfolio coursework, which ensures that student action over co-op is coupled with reflection in order to promote critical awareness of social circumstances and to maximize the potential for transformation. Work Portfolio courses are designed to lead students to follow their interests in thematic areas, to take stock of the skills they are developing, and to consider how their abilities may be put to use in addressing complex issues in a variety of contexts.

Work Portfolio courses are also intended to teach students how to think about their work and their various co-op experiences, to help students find their voice in public communications about their work, and to promote both professional and personal growth. It is the belief of the Co-op faculty that these broad goals cannot be effectively achieved unless serious attention is given to the thematic interests of our students, the methodologies that underpin the approaches of the various disciplines to which the College is committed, and the evolving fields in which students desire to gain experience.

With this in mind, the Co-op Faculty defines Portfolio Courses as having the following common characteristics:

  • Portfolio Courses are experience-based courses for which the "text" examined by students consists of their own highly individualized experiences during cooperative work terms as well as their efforts to make meaning out of these experiences. Texts as such can be supported by additional readings, but the major source of content is the student’s own experience.
  • Portfolio courses emphasize reflection in the sense of encouraging self-awareness as well as understanding of how the integration of the theoretical and the active components of field-based learning promote student agency, effectiveness, and ability to reflect on place-based programming.
  • Portfolio courses are a form of high-impact learning that contribute to the assemblage of a body of work that, following the tradition of the arts, is showcased within a standing portfolio, the contents of which are generally subject to peer critique and shared with an audience beyond the course instructor and members for the class.
  • Portfolio courses emphasize the development of skills that are grounded in a disciplinary framework, relate to specific employment sectors, and can be mapped generally to communities of practice.
  • Portfolio courses enable students to exercise methodological skills and build upon the modes of inquiry they have been exposed to on campus.
  • Portfolio courses promote integrative learning, which can be defined as the iterative process by which co-op students engage the world and encounter opportunities to make connections between the ideas to which they are exposed and the experiences they attain. They encourage students to reflect on, synthesize, and transfer their insights to complex situations during co-op, in the classroom, and within the diverse communities they encounter throughout their college career. In this sense, students are expected to articulate a synthesis of integrative learning that builds upon their prior knowledge and perspectives and connects to meaningful experiences that inform their immediate learning goals as well as their professional trajectory.

Work Portfolio Course Requirements

Students are required to earn a minimum of eight co-op credits for graduation. They do so by completing four approved Cooperative Education experiences and pass four Work Portfolio courses with a grade of “C” or better (two credits each) that they are required to take concurrently while engaged in their cooperative work terms.

Students can enroll in any one of the Work Portfolio courses that are open at the time they engage in their cooperative work term as long as they meet the co-requisite of an approved co-op experience and any prerequisite WORK courses identified. 

Work Portfolio courses are generally considered to be “asynchronous” in that they are facilitated in an online environment via an electronic course management system. Students work at their own pace within the guidelines of the assignments, the schedule of the instructor, and the due dates indicated on the syllabus. Although there is a wealth of interactions and face-to-face contact is encouraged, these courses are mediated by the student in terms of time and space, in coordination with the course instructor.

As with courses on campus, active student participation in online courses is necessary for success. Course attendance in online courses is considered in various ways:

  • Fulltime Experiential Engagement – Co-op students are required to be employed at least 30 hours per week in an approved co-op job or engaged in another approved experiential learning opportunity for a minimum of 30 hours per week throughout the 11-week academic term. Leaving a position before completing the 11 weeks must be approved by the instructor and a plan for completing the experiential requirement must be formalized. Failure to do may result in a failing grade for the co-op term and requires the student to repeat the co-op.
  • Full Engagement in Portfolio Coursework - Regular communication and timely submission of assignments is required to demonstrate attendance in the online language courses as well as the reflection component of experiential courses taken online when students are engaged off campus. The most common way for a student to demonstrate this engagement is to log in to their online learning platform, participate in discussion threads, upload assignments on time, and fulfill other expectations outlined in the course syllabus in a timely fashion.

The Co-op faculty recognizes that students may operate in very different environments while taking online classes than they do in standard in-class settings. Commuting times, internet access, living situations, and other factors influence a student’s ability to perform. Moreover, instructors take different approaches to the various courses offered online. If a student is unable to access the online learning platform, they should communicate with their instructor the first week of the course either by email, telephone, or U. S. mail. Their instructor will consider the logistical issues and talk with the student about how they can fulfill the terms of the course in the event that they do not have regular internet, phone, or Skype access. If the student expects that they will have a hard time communicating for whatever reason, they should print out a copy of the syllabus as well as the details of all assignments at the outset of the co-op term. It is not uncommon for a student working in a remote setting to write out the assignments longhand and send them by regular mail.

It is imperative that students enter into communication with the instructor during the first week of the co-op term so that they will be counted as participating in the course. Students who have not demonstrated participation in online courses through the means described above during the first two weeks of the quarter will be dropped from enrollment by the registrar. Please note that this may have an impact on the awarding of financial aid for the term.

When Problems Arise

Cooperative education experiences and Work Portfolio courses are co-requisites. Students need to be successful in both in order to receive credit for a co-op. Success with the Work Portfolio is demonstrated by meeting the requirements explained in the course syllabus. Success in the experiential component is demonstrated by holding the approved position for the duration of the co-op term or transitioning to another approved co-op placement in order to fulfill the required 11 weeks of fulltime engagement.

The Cooperative Education Program understands that from time to time either a student or an employer may decide to terminate an approved position before completion of the term. Students are expected to be in contact with their co-op advisor in order to resolve issues before they become problematic; but sometimes things do not work out.

Co-op partners are asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) formalizing the cooperative relationship. Through that document they are reminded of the protections afforded to all workers by law. Nevertheless, nothing contained within the MoU prevents an employer from terminating a student’s employment if they find cause to do so as long as they operate in accordance with state and federal laws. Employers are asked to consult with a representative of the Co-op Program prior to such action, but on rare occasions such eventualities occur. Likewise, students should consult with the Co-op Program if they have problems at their workplace; however, it is within their right to renounce a position if they feel that is the right thing to do.

The Co-op Program prioritizes a student’s right to work in a safe and supportive environment and provides support to students who feel the need to leave a situation because of physical or emotional safety concerns. The Co-op team works hard to provide assistance to students in such a situation so that they have the best possible chance of successfully completing their co-op requirement. Students are informed however that Antioch College is not in a position to provide legal counsel to resolve legal disputes between a student and an employer.

If a student does leave a position, they may propose another position/experience for themselves in order to complete the required eleven weeks of fulltime work. It is essential that the student works closely with their co-op advisor in such cases in order to receive approval for any proposed replacement experience. It is important to note that failure to complete the required experiential component of the program results in a failing grade for the term, even if the student is making progress with the Work Portfolio component of the co-op term. It is also possible for a student to be successful on a co-op placement but fail the Work Portfolio course. If that is the case, they may retake a Work Portfolio course at a later date by reflecting on a previous co-op experience--only if that co-op was successful and met the required minimum number of hours.

If a student fails the Work Portfolio Transfer course (WORK 125T), their prior work will not be counted to fulfill one of the four required cooperative education experiences. The student may register for WORK 125T again, and upon successful completion, may have their prior work experience accepted as a cooperative education experience, provided it meets the requirements as discussed in the section on WORK 125T in this catalog.