June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Educational Research and Methods
13.537.1 - 13.537.12
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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