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Enhancing Design Learning By Implementing Electronic Portfolios

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Design: Content and Context

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.537.1 - 13.537.12



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Paper Authors


Mieke Schuurman Pennsylvania State University

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Mieke Schuurman is an engineering education research associate with the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education in the College of Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her Masters and PhD in Social & Organizational Psychology from the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). Her work focuses on the enhancement of engineering education. She is a member of ASEE and WEPAN, and actively involved in ASEE's Cooperative Education Division as their Research Chair. She has presented her work at annual conferences of ASEE, WEPAN, and CEIA, and published in the Journal of Engineering Education, the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, the European Journal of Social Psychology, and the European Review of Social Psychology.

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Christine B. Masters Pennsylvania State University

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Christine B. Masters is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a PhD from Penn State in 1992. In addition to raising four children with her husband of 20 years, she has been teaching introductory mechanics courses for more than 10 years, training the department graduate teaching assistants for 7 years, coordinating the Engineering Science Honors Program undergraduate advising efforts for 5 years and currently participates in a variety of engineering educational research initiatives. She has been an active member of ASEE since 1998 and is currently the immediate past chair of the Mechanics Division.

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Peggy Van Meter Pennsylvania State University

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Peggy Van Meter is an associate professor of educational psychology at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1996. Her interests are in the areas of learning, cognition, psychological processes of reading and effective instructional practices. She has co-authored several book chapters and journal articles addressing the issues of students' strategic processes in learning settings. Currently, she is working on NSF funded projects in engineering including projects to incorporate design experiences into engineering classes and the design of interventions for students in Statics.

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Gül Okudan Pennsylvania State University

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Gül E. Okudan is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. from University of Missouri-Rolla. Her research interests include product design and product design teams. Her published work appears in journals such as Journal of Mechanical Design, Design Studies, Journal of Engineering Design, Journal of Engineering Education, European Journal of Engineering Education and Technovation. She is a member of ASEE and ASME. She is also a National Research Council-US AFRL Summer Faculty Fellow of the Human Effectiveness Directorate for 2002, 2003 and 2004.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Enhancing Design Learning by Implementing E-Portfolios


This paper presents the findings of a pilot intervention that implemented e-portfolios to enhance design learning at The Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). It will answer the following questions: (1) What type of guidance do students need to develop meaningful content for their portfolios? and (2) How do we assess the portfolio content? The paper includes a description of the rubrics used to assess students’ e-portfolio content. The Model of Domain Learning (MDL) formed the basis of the rubric development. The results revealed the importance of reflective writing in the development of ABET-aligned World Class Engineer attributes along the dimensions of the MDL, in particular the development of knowledge. The project was partially funded by the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education and Social Science Research Institute at Penn State.


Design is a key component of a majority of engineering disciplines. The importance of design in engineering education is evident in a key learning outcome criterion set by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), which states that students are expected to demonstrate “the ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability” 1. Most four year engineering programs include a cornerstone design course in the first year which introduces students to the breadth of engineering design topics. Students obtain more in-depth knowledge in their second and third year, in particular related to engineering analysis. Although analysis is a relevant part of the design process, when asked to describe their experience with engineering design, junior engineering students often refer to their cornerstone design course but not to their second and third year coursework. This means that students do not recognize their analytical training as a necessary part of their design preparation. Despite this disconnect, these students are expected to pull their analysis training together with their first year design experience to successfully complete a capstone design project in their senior year. Based on this, we assert that design learning needs to be enhanced to integrate seemingly disparate pieces of design knowledge and skills. Empirical evidence supports this assertion.2

A proven way to enhance learning is to engage students in their own learning, for example by having them document and reflect on their learning experiences. Increasingly, electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) are gaining attention as a solid assessment tool as well as a pedagogical tool. As a pedagogical tool, e-portfolios serve to communicate high expectations and support learner-centered instruction. We hypothesize that documentation of engineering design learning in an e-portfolio will enhance students’ learning.

The empirical literature supports the belief that active learning supports student outcomes 3, 4. Students who are engaged in active learning are more likely to progress through stages of

Schuurman, M., & Masters, C. B., & Van Meter, P., & Okudan, G. (2008, June), Enhancing Design Learning By Implementing Electronic Portfolios Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3283

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