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Integration of ePortfolios in a First-Year Engineering Course for Measuring Student Engagement

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

FPD 6: Course Content and Educational Strategies

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.785.1 - 24.785.16



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Paper Authors

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Victoria E. Goodrich University of Notre Dame

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Everaldo Marques de Aguiar Jr. University of Notre Dame


G. Alex Ambrose University of Notre Dame

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G. Alex Ambrose, the Interim Coordinator of the Notre Dame E-Portfolio Engagement Project (nDEEP), currently serves as an Academic Advisor and Co-director of the Balfour Hesburgh Scholars Program in The First Year of Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Alex is a Google Certified Teacher, Google Apps in Education Certified Trainer, and founder of He is an active member of the The Association for Authentic, Experiential and Evidence-Based Learning (AAEEBL) and National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). Alex comes with over a decade of teaching experience ranging from diverse suburban and inner-city Blue Ribbon elementary schools to higher education institutions in private, state, and community colleges—both face-to-face, fully online, and hybrid. For more information see his ePortfolio at:

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Leo H. McWilliams University of Notre Dame

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Dr. Leo H. McWilliams is Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs and the Director of the Minority Engineering Program in the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. Prior to joining Notre Dame he worked as a principal engineer at Honeywell International. Dr. McWilliams received his B.A. in economics, B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame.

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Jay B. Brockman University of Notre Dame

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Nitesh Chawla University of Notre Dame

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Integration of ePortfolios in a First-Year Engineering Course for Measuring Student EngagementFor the past 3 years, the First-Year Engineering Program at a medium sized, Midwestern privateinstitution has used electronic portfolios (ePortfolios) as an assessment tool for their Introductionto Engineering course sequence. While each year the ePortfolio assignments have expanded, theyhave been focused largely in three types of reflections: (1) student experiences within the collegebut outside of the course, (2) the skills gained specifically through course projects, and (3) theirfour year plan to be a successful engineering student as defined by the ABET a-k criteria.ePortfolio assignments were initially included to allow students to reflect on their education,develop evidence of their blossoming skills, and take control of their graduation plan. After thefirst year of practice, there was a clear secondary benefit to the faculty and student advisors.Anecdotally, student reflections provide faculty with a measure of student engagement with thecourse and even possibly indicated retention into their sophomore year. For this reason, a moreformal assessment was needed to determine if student engagement could be measured throughePortfolio reflections.While students are engaged with their ePortfolios, data that describes their interaction with theePortfolio (number of times they log in, number of artifacts they submit, hits, comments, etc.) iscontinually collected. This paper will focus on: (1) how ePortfolios have been folded into theIntroduction to Engineering course sequence, (2) if student reflections can be used as a measureof engagement and engineering interest, and (3) what markers within an ePortfolio can predictstudent retention. Specifically, study measures will consist of: (1) instructor categorization ofstudent reflections and evidence types used and (2) assessment of the ePortfolio data featuresdescribed above as they relate to student retention through the first year. Specifically, ePortfoliodata features are continually collected through the use of a computational mining tool. In aninitial study of the fall 2012 semester data, students who left the engineering track after onesemester had an average of 12.7 logins to the ePortfolio system. Students who left theengineering track after two semesters and students who persisted into the sophomore year had asignificantly larger average number of logins, with 18.7 and 19.1, respectively. Future plansinclude deeper exploration of ePortfolio features as markers of student interest in engineering,specifically identifying students by mid-semester that are at risk for prematurely leaving theengineering track and deploying intervention strategies for those students.

Goodrich, V. E., & Aguiar, E. M. D., & Ambrose, G. A., & McWilliams, L. H., & Brockman, J. B., & Chawla, N. (2014, June), Integration of ePortfolios in a First-Year Engineering Course for Measuring Student Engagement Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20677

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