June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Educational Research and Methods
11.1346.1 - 11.1346.13
Tracing Student Development during Construction of Engineering Professional Portfolios Abstract: Engineering students undertake the learning of a deep and complex discipline. In addition to a large amount of difficult content knowledge, their growth into engineers entails understanding the role of their engineering discipline in society, the profession of engineering as a whole and perhaps most difficult, their own places in both their discipline and their profession. In this paper, we report on a study investigating the potential of portfolio construction (specifically construction of professional engineering portfolios) for promoting and advancing students’ growth into engineers.
Engineering students undertake the learning of a deep and complex discipline. In addition to a large amount of difficult content knowledge, their growth into engineers entails understanding the role of their engineering discipline in society, the profession of engineering as a whole and perhaps most difficult, their own places in both their discipline and their profession. As a community, we need to develop innovative pedagogies to support all of these aspects of student development and to understand the impacts of such pedagogies.
In our work, we are exploring student construction of professional portfolios as one such pedagogical intervention1-2. In these portfolios, students describe their preparedness for engineering practice and provide evidence of their preparedness by drawing on experiences from across their curriculum. These portfolios include an overarching professional statement, artifacts illustrating their engineering skills and abilities (e.g. circuit design) and personal traits (e.g. leadership), and annotations to properly contextualize those artifacts for a specific professional audience (examples can be seen at http://courses.washington.edu/engrport/). Our goal in supporting this portfolio construction process is not to support assessment, as with many other portfolio efforts, but rather to create opportunities for learning and development.
We believe that portfolio construction offers a powerful variety of learning opportunities that leaves the portfolio creator more knowledgeable than she/he was prior to the portfolio construction activity. This belief comes from considering portfolio construction as a writing activity with the potential to transform the content knowledge about which the author is writing. Given that the creation of a portfolio involves writing about oneself, particularly one’s own experiences and one’s sense of belonging to the profession, the theory suggests that portfolio construction has the potential to transform, among other things, one’s understanding of one’s experience and one’s sense of how they fit in the profession.
This paper reports a study investigating this potential of portfolio construction. The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In the background section, we provide additional detail on the theoretical framework guiding our work culminating with an identification of the specific research questions addressed in this paper. The method section provides detail on the context for our study (a class in which students were engaged in construction of professional portfolios) and discusses the larger study design from which this paper is drawn. In the results, we provide evidence of the kinds of learning opportunities we identified in the data. The paper closes with interpretation of the results and a discussion of the current direction of our work.
Turns, J., & Lappenbusch, S. (2006, June), Tracing Student Development During Construction Of Engineering Professional Portfolios Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1181
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