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The Learning Portal

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1025.1 - 6.1025.13

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Paper Authors

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Richard Upchurch

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Judith Sims-Knight

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The Learning Portal Richard L. Upchurch, Judith E. Sims-Knight University of Massachusetts Dartmouth


Undergraduate engineering education is experiencing a paradigm shift, from teacher-centered to student-centered pedagogy characterized by student teamwork and integrative curricula 1. The research and experiences underlying this shift have revealed that effective learners not only learn actively, but they develop an awareness of their skills in learning, and engage in self-assessment and reflection. Research in psychology has found that the reflective process engages students and helps them develop, particularly as self-regulated learners. As the educational enterprise undergoes this radical change, there is an increased recognition of the need for methods that allow students to develop such cognitive and metacognitive skills.

This paper presents our explorations in defining and constructing a system that helps students organize their work, review their and others’ work, and reflect on their progress. The system we are building includes the support tools for student-centered knowledge construction and management. We examine our early prototypes and discuss how our experiences with those systems led to the current system requirements. These requirements include the knowledge/document management, self-assessment, reflection, planning, and collaboration. We discuss the intended uses for the system, and provide examples from our current uses of the system to highlight the potential. The paper includes a review of the literature supporting our work.

I. Introduction

Undergraduate engineering education is experiencing a paradigm shift. An essential feature of this paradigm shift is a movement from teacher-centered to more appropriately student-centered pedagogy. The teacher-centered tradition has been the cornerstone of higher education, with engineering education merely adhering to the dominant doctrine, for what seems an eternity. The teacher-centered model characterizes students as products. As such, the educational outcomes are expressed as exit skills or competencies 2. Catalano and Catalano 3 enumerate three assumptions associated with the teacher-centered model:

1. An(y) educational process is considered culturally neutral as well as linear and rational. 2. Language serves as a conduit for the transmission of information.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Upchurch, R., & Sims-Knight, J. (2001, June), The Learning Portal Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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: © 2001 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