Asee peer logo

Learning/Assessment: A Tool For Assessing Liberative Pedagogies In Engineering Education

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.880.1 - 11.880.16



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Donna Riley Smith College

visit author page

Donna Riley is Assistant Professor in the Picker Engineering Program at Smith College. Her work focuses on implementing liberative pedagogies in engineering education.

visit author page


Lionel Claris Smith College

visit author page

Lionel Claris holds a master's degree in education from Smith College and currently teaches Spanish and French to elementary school students in Springfield, MA. He is a passionate advocate for new ways of thinking about learning, involved locally in the Holistic School Project of Amherst and the Re-radicalization of Hampshire College.

visit author page


Nora Paul-Schultz Smith College

visit author page

Nora Paul-Schultz is a student at Smith College.

visit author page


Ida Ngambeki Smith College

visit author page

Ida Ngambeki is a student at Smith College.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Learning/Assessment: A tool for assessing liberative pedagogies in engineering education Abstract Recently some engineering educators have introduced liberative pedagogies (including feminist and critical pedagogies) in their classrooms. These pedagogies promise to impact student interest, motivation, and performance as they create democratic classrooms that encourage all voices, grounding learning in the authority of student experience. Liberative pedagogies differ from other learner-centered pedagogies in that personal transformation and social change are at their heart, with the key outcomes of critical thinking and reflective action. With new goals and outcomes come new measures of success, which require new assessment tools.

A liberative assessment tool has been developed and implemented in an engineering thermodynamics class. The tool uses weblog (blog) technology to measure student learning as well as enhance it, encouraging reflection and enabling students to connect classroom content with personal experience. In the blog learning structure, each student develops an individual page of entries over the semester, using guiding questions that require about half an hour per weekly entry. The course begins with introspection, in which students articulate their aspirations and locate the course in relation to their identities and scholarly pursuits. Prior to the introduction of each new topic, students reflect and articulate their knowledge and experience related to the subject matter. As material is presented, students then reflect on what they have learned and how it relates to their lives. Critical thinking is a central part of this process, as students ask questions of themselves, the discipline, and one another. Finally, students explore certain questions of their choosing, developing new ideas that they pursue independently and interdependently.

Narrative analysis of blog entries measures achievement of three key goals of liberative pedagogies. First, blog entries reflect the development of student understanding of course material through time. Student pre-conceptions were extracted from entries written before a new topic was introduced to provide the instructor with insight into personal context and student preconceptions, which were then addressed in class. Student reflections on what they learned in class and through assignments were used to measure students’ progress and gain insight into student learning and thinking. Critical thinking was evaluated by examining the frequency and quality of reflective questions about both course material and student learning. Reflective action was measured in student descriptions of their pursuit of independent ideas that grow from the entries themselves.

Other assessment measures were used to supplement the blog in course assessment and provide evaluative insight into the blog’s effectiveness as both a learning and assessment tool. These measures included focus groups, interviews, written surveys, and student course work. Discussion focuses on the promises and limitations of the blog itself, the notion of integrating learning and assessment, and the pros and cons of using blogs as opposed to traditional journals or online discussion groups. The blog is a promising tool for integrated learning and assessment that can be used to measure the achievement of the goals of liberative pedagogies, and can be adapted to measure the achievement of a variety of other learning goals.

Riley, D., & Claris, L., & Paul-Schultz, N., & Ngambeki, I. (2006, June), Learning/Assessment: A Tool For Assessing Liberative Pedagogies In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--154

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015