Academic STEMM Co-op in Health Research

Partners in Education

Partners in Education programs exist to enhance the educational process and facilitate personal growth of our students by providing the best possible resources and expertise. PEL is a Partners in Education program that was implemented in the 2004-2005 school year to extend the continuum of training for oncology graduate students to the secondary school community. Training in cancer research was offered to secondary school co-op students by Dr. Jim Koropatnick, the director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategic Training Program in Cancer Research & Technology Transfer (CIHR-STP CaRTT) and Rodger Dusky, the director of Partners in Experiential Learning (PEL). Since inception, PEL has expanded its mentor base and endeavoured to enrich the cooperative, collaborative education partnerships between 40 secondary schools within the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), the London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB), the Wheable Centre for Adult Education, and the community of health research professionals. Today, all senior secondary co-op students, who are highly motivated to engage in a workplace assignment in the STEMM disciplines in health research and are recommended by their co-op teacher will be considered for PEL.
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Registration, Application, Pre-placement and Placement Process

When the annual secondary school registration process has been completed, co-op teachers initiate a first interview to approve the registered co-op students. Selected co-op students from the first interview, who clearly demonstrate an interest and willingness to engage in the academic STEMM disciplines in health research are scheduled for a 2nd interview.

The 2nd interview is scheduled to discuss the documentation that must be completed and edited with the teacher. When all PEL applicants are registered, the PEL director will conduct a group interview at the school and initiate the pre-placement process with each applicant. Directions for submitting the PEL application documentation to the PEL Dropbox will be given during the group interview. Applicants who are committed to the application process are invited to the annual Oncology Research and Education Day in June and the matching process begins. Each student is carefully matched with experiential learning opportunities in the mentor sites associated with oncology, vascular disease, primary health care, and musculoskeletal health as well as health research sites in the Lawson, Robarts and Western University Faculties of Science, Engineering Science, Health Science and Medicine & Dentistry. The PEL director works with the co-op teachers and selected students to ensure that they are matched and placed appropriately. Each PEL co-op student must attend one of the PEL Orientation Seminars that occurs in either September or December of each school year prior to entering the placement, and the Secondary School Gairdner Event in October. Prior to confirming a placement, the PEL director will consult with the student to ensure that the student is placed properly. This step may require an interview with the PEL mentor. Once the PEL co-op student is placed, the co-op teacher delivers the program as directed by the Ministry of Education Cooperative Education and Other Forms of Experiential Learning Policies and Procedures for Ontario Secondary Schools, 2000.


Steps in Registration, Application and Pre-placement
Steps in Placement


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The school will require the student, parent/guardian, training organization/supervisor and teacher to complete a School Board Co-operative Education Program Participants' Agreement that details the conditions of the work-education relationship. The following is a partial listing of the responsibilities:


  • The workplace provides a safe and healthy environment where the student will be supervised, trained, provided work/learning opportunities and evaluated.
  • The teacher will assess the work/learning environment, establish curriculum connections for each independent learning plan, monitor and evaluate student performance in the workplace and deliver the in-school component.
  • The student will abide by all workplace and school policies relating to the program
  • Parents agree to the participation of their son/daughter in the program and accept responsibility for his/her conduct.

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Lab photo

Time in the Workplace

The student, parent/guardian, training organization/supervisor and teacher sign a Ministry of Education Work Education Agreement that details the specific times at the placement;

  • Students usually spend from 2.5 to 3 hours for each time period in the workplace; however, this may be adjusted to suit the workplace and the student.
  • Student placement may occur in the morning or afternoon depending on the student's schedule.

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For more information, contact:

Rodger Dusky, Director PEL

Christine Koustrup , Coordinator CIHR STP CaRTT
(519) 685-8600 x55769



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