Why it should be mandatory that all science students complete a placement course
With employers seeking graduates with increasing professional skills, the university standard of required courses is not cutting it.
Co-op, placement courses, research practicums and internships are some of the experiential education opportunities the faculty of science offers its students. Although there are various opportunities for science students to gain an experiential education, this is not necessarily the most known option as students begin their university careers.
Unless a student begins university intending to partake in co-op, these learning opportunities are not widely discussed. Luckily, McMaster offers courses such as LIFESCI 2AA3 and SCIENCE 2C00 spread awareness about the opportunity and benefits of experiential learning.
LIFESCI 2AA3 hosts a lecturelecture dedicated to having a panel of third and fourth-year science students speak about their experiences in an experiential learning course. At the same time, SCIENCE 2C00 is a prerequisite￼ course for students to develop professional skills before entering co-op in their third year.
Although not many experiential educational courses are offered to science students, the different learning methods that are offered allows students to get involved in the ones that best suit them.
For example, co-op is provided to a limited number of programs within the Faculty of Science here at McMaster. Whereas there are only 16 different experiential education offered to all science students.
The traditional co-op route entails students adding an extra year to their degree. For many students, this is not attractive due to the length it takes to complete as well as hindering their professional school plans.
However, by making experiential education courses mandatory, students can receive the benefits of co-op without committing another year to obtain a degree. These courses are created like a regular course in the sense that they are unit based. Thus, experiential education courses count towards the unit requirement of a degree.
Regardless of the limited courses offered within the faculty of science, the importance of these experiential education courses is prominent. These opportunities allow students to gain real-world experience in their field of choice.
According to a study published by two archeologists, student interns engaging in experiential learning gained transferable skills and apply their learned knowledge to society. Their internship enabled them to become educators within their community and made these students well-rounded individuals prepared to enter a working environment.
By making experiential education courses a requirement to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree, science students are given more incentive to engage in opportunities that will provide them with the necessary experience for the working world.
Universities should make courses under the experiential education category mandatory for all science students. Students will gain experience academically relevant within their field of choice providing them the opportunity to develop transferable skills. Fortunately, this could all occur without extending their graduation date, allowing them to indulge in the best of both worlds.
Universities should be more mindful of more hands-on learning options and start discussing on making courses such as these mandatory for all science students.