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The Interactive Programming Portfolio

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.527.1 - 4.527.5

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Paper Authors

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John K. Estell

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

Session 3420

The Interactive Programming Portfolio John K. Estell Bluffton College


The portfolio has long been used as a tool for monitoring student progress. In computer science, the programming portfolio contains a selection of computer programs that a student has produced over a period of time. Usually this has consisted of a notebook containing pages of program listings, perhaps combined with text-based example runs or graphics-based snapshots showing particular moments of program execution. While useful, reviewing such material is about as exciting as watching paint dry and fails to capture the essence of the programs in action. With the advent of the World Wide Web and the Java-based applet, the programming portfolio can be revitalized into an interactive format conducive to both student and reviewer.

The Portfolio

A portfolio consists of a collection of materials assembled over a period of time that is used to both demonstrate and document one’s ability in a particular subject. Portfolios are commonly used in the artistic professions. For example, photographers who specialize in weddings will present to the inquiring engaged couple an assembled collection of their work. By constructing a portfolio photographers have the opportunity to reflect upon their work as they select the best results from their photographic sessions; similarly, the couple looking to hire someone for their wedding can use the portfolios to evaluate the ability of each photographer. So not only is the portfolio a means to demonstrate and document competence, it also allows for assessment by both the person assembling the portfolio and those who must pass judgement on that person’s work. It is for these reasons that many in the engineering education community have adopted the use of portfolios in the classroom as it is a valuable assessment tool for both students and instructors.

With the rise of the World Wide Web there has been increased interest in the development of electronic portfolios. The nature of the Web as an interactive multimedia facility that can provide information on demand opens up new possibilities for the use of portfolios in many disciplines, including computer science. One variant recently reported on is the development of a Web-based on-line journal for their writing-intensive undergraduate software engineering course1. The on-line journal was used to allow students to conveniently maintain their journals while also providing the instructor a more effective way to review, and provide feedback on, the contents. Applying the concepts of an electronic portfolio to computer programming itself is straightforward. It is simple to create a Web document containing listings and descriptions of one’s computer programs. The pages within this document may include graphical snapshots of programs “in action” and links to downloadable source code and executable files. The problem with this approach is the amount of effort required by the

Estell, J. K. (1999, June), The Interactive Programming Portfolio Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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