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Portfolios: An Effective Assessment Strategy For First Year Engineering Students

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.449.1 - 3.449.8

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Paper Authors

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Randall L. Ness

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Carl A. Erikson

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

Session 3530

Portfolios: An Effective Assessment Strategy for First Year Engineering Students

Carl A. Erikson, Jr., Randall L. Ness Messiah College Grantham, PA 17027

Abstract A portfolio is a purposeful collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress and/or achievement in given areas. It can be used as a vehicle for demonstrating knowledge, understanding and performance, as a personal reflective tool, and as an assessment tool. Why use portfolios? They 1] Are conducive for assessing experiential learning 2] Provide opportunities for reflection 3] Encourage self-analysis 4] Provide broad and an in-depth portrayal of student thinking and behavior 5] Provide evidence of performance beyond factual knowledge 6] Provide developmental look at progress 7] Allow the student to share in the responsibility for assessment 8] Reflect life-long nature of learning

This article documents the preparation, documentation, and results of two sections of an Introduction to Engineering course’s use of portfolios for reflection, self-evaluation, and demonstration of accomplishment. Formats for both a working portfolio and showcase portfolio are discussed. Student results and reactions are evaluated.

Introduction Assessment of the graduate engineer’s capabilities is part of gaining ABET accreditation for an engineering program. There are many means to do this including standardized tests such as the GRE or FE examination, interviews with students and/or employers, major research papers and projects, and locally developed essay tests [1]. Another method that the Messiah College Engineering Department has begun to explore is the use of portfolios.

Portfolios are commonly used tools in certain professions like art or photography, whereby artists or photographers seek to present collections representative of their best works to customers, clients or potential employers. Just as a photographer uses the portfolio to showcase his best work and a client can use that portfolio to assess that photographer’s work, we believe the portfolio method can be a useful way to showcase and assess competencies required for an engineering graduate. This article discusses our experience using portfolio as a reflection and assessment tool for the class, Introduction to Engineering (ENGR102).

Ness, R. L., & Erikson, C. A. (1998, June), Portfolios: An Effective Assessment Strategy For First Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington.

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