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Supporting Self-authorship Development: The Contribution of Preparedness Portfolios

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Identity and Culture

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1215.1 - 25.1215.15



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Paper Authors


Brook Sattler University of Washington

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Brook Sattler is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. Her dissertation focuses on mechanisms for supporting engineering student development, specifically self-authorship.

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Jennifer A. Turns University of Washington


Kathryn Ann Mobrand University of Washington

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Kathryn Mobrand is a doctoral candidate in the Human Centered Design & Engineering Department at UW. She investigates engineering undergraduates’ conceptions of the communication they will engage in as practicing engineers.

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Supporting Self-Authorship Development: The Contribution of Preparedness PortfoliosThe undergraduate years are pivotal to engineering students’ development. Broadly defined,student development is the ways students grow and mature. Historically, educators, includingengineering educators, have attended to intellectual development—development in ways inwhich one constructs meaning about the world and gains knowledge. While it is important toattend to intellectual development, there are merits to integrating other domains of development,such as identity and relationship development. A more holistic approach to student developmentcouples intellectual development with both identity (i.e., securing and trusting an internalcompass) as well relationship development (i.e., maintaining one’s internal compass, whileengaging in interdependence). Furthermore, self-authorship represents a particular level ofachievement along these threads of development; scholars in higher education consider self-authorship development a main mission of higher education.Student development, particularly the development of self-authorship, is an internal process,meaning that it is challenging to observe and even more complicated to support. Researchershave suggested that there are markers, often related to behavior, of self-authorship (e.g., makingreference to one’s core beliefs, displaying emotion related to the way one makes meaning of theworld). Students often begin exhibiting these markers in educational activities that are bothchallenging and supportive. One strategy that has been shown to both challenge and support self-authorship development is reflection, which can be encouraged in a variety of ways. Moreover,researchers have shown portfolio construction to be a promising mechanism for engagingstudents in reflection, thus indicating that portfolio construction is a promising means to supportstudents’ self-authorship development. In our work we have had engineering students constructpreparedness arguments in the form of an online portfolio. In these preparedness arguments,students articulate their readiness for future engineering practice based on past experiences.In our current analysis, we are answering the following research question—do students exhibittraits of self-authoring individuals in a reflective activity like portfolio development? In thispaper we examine students' development toward self-authorship along all three developmentaldimensions identified earlier. Specifically, we focus on the experiences of three students (i.e.,cases studies) using data from post surveys and interviews.In our paper, we will describe these three students’ development in terms of self-authorshipmarkers. In our data analysis, thus far, we have noted that while looking back on priorexperiences in light of future goals, these students reported experiencing a range of emotions—excitement, anxiety, fear, pride, and disappointment. Emotion is a marker of self-authorshipdevelopment because it indicates a disjuncture in how one makes meaning of self or experiences,which can be a catalyst towards self-authorship. Additionally, we noted students’ engagementwith “self assessment.” While the portfolio activity engenders this “personal reflection,” studentssincerely grappled with their internal core rather than depending on external formulas. Bothemotion and self-assessment are examples of students exhibiting self-authorship markers withinthe context of portfolio construction. Findings such as these are enticing in terms of the profoundsignificance of promoting the development of self-authorship within higher education.

Sattler, B., & Turns, J. A., & Mobrand, K. A. (2012, June), Supporting Self-authorship Development: The Contribution of Preparedness Portfolios Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21972

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