New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Design in Engineering Education
The paper lab notebook is the root of some fundamental inefficiencies within the engineering design process; they are often difficult to search, an obstacle to teamwork and collaboration, vulnerable to damage or loss, and inconsistent in legibility and formatting. Unsurprisingly, there is increasing interest in electronic lab notebooks (ELNs) since they were introduced in the early 1990s. However, despite many apparent advantages of ELNs (remote access and sharing, secure data management, easy to search, etc.), the use of ELNs as modern research tools is still developing. Additionally, from an engineering teaching perspective, ELNs do not generally have student-administrative functions and can be prohibitively expensive. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to investigate the use and impact of an electronic portfolio (eFolio) system as a surrogate electronic lab notebook as compared with a traditional paper notebook.
EFolios serve as a creative space and recording system that uses digital technologies to collect artifacts of student learning and progress. The use of eFolios for design project documentation enables students to regularly capture, organize, and reflect on project artifacts, while enhancing the instructor-to-student communication process, progress monitoring and assessment. The primary goal of this study is to determine if eFolios are an adequate substitute for paper design notebooks in terms of quality and quantity of artifacts recorded.
This study will compare paper and eFolio design notebooks from a 10 week community-based engineering design project course. In this course, student teams (often multi-disciplinary) take on a quarter-long design project from ideation to final prototype working with a community partner. Specifically, the types of data and design process efforts from student eFolios during the academic year 2014-2015 will be compared to paper notebooks from the same course in years prior to 2014. A representative sample of 20 notebooks from both formats will be reviewed. Qualitative assessment scoring will be developed for individual project logs, reflective elements and team project documentation. Quantitative data analysis will be utilized to tabulate frequency in numbers of artifacts, especially visuals including charts, sketches, photos, etc. Finally, this comparison hopes to draw initial conclusions on organization, connectivity of artifacts, and communication to intended eFolio audiences including the students themselves, instructors, teammates, and community partners.
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