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Using the Portfolio Approach to Assess Multi-year Engineering Projects: a Case Study

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

A Challenge to Engineering Educators

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1344.1 - 23.1344.16



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Paper Authors


Harold R Underwood Messiah College

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Dr. Underwood received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at UIUC in 1989, and has been a faculty member of the Engineering Department at Messiah College since 1992. Besides teaching Circuit Analysis, Electromagnetics, and Communications Systems, he supervises students on projects in the Integrated Projects Curriculum (IPC) and within the Communications Technology Group of the Messiah College Collaboratory. His on-going projects include Flight Tracking and Messaging for small planes in remote locations, and assistive communication technology involving Wireless Enabled Remote Co-presence for cognitively and behaviorally challenged individuals.

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A Portfolio Approach for Assessing Multi-year Engineering ProjectsA multi-year, engineering project curriculum improves on the traditional senior capstone courseby increasing project continuity, longevity and vertical integration of student teams, making theeducational experience a more complete and realistic one. The EPICS model for such a multi-year engineering project program including multidisciplinary and service-oriented emphases hasbeen presented by Coyle, et al., as implemented at a large university. A version of this programalso proves to be effective for an engineering program at a smaller liberal arts college. However,assessing multiyear, ongoing project work, in various phases of development, can be a challenge.The portfolio for engineering assessment has been described by Williams. While a portfoliorequirement encourages students to select, reflect on, and professionally showcase best practiceexamples of their work as they initiate their career, well-defined portfolio-documented aspects ofproject work can also provide evidence suitable for educational assessment. For individualstudent grading in a course involving several diverse projects, portfolios can document aspects ofproject work such as communication, research, dissemination, analysis, prototyping, testing, etc.if a rubric is developed that details uniform expectations in each category. Moreover, ifcorrelated, the same portfolio material and rubrics can serve as a measure of matching outcomesfor related items of the ABET assessment plan. This paper will provide examples of multiyearmultidisciplinary service learning projects at the author’s institution, and details of the portfolioassessment approach that has been developed for evaluation. Portfolios can document the extentto which students of engineering go beyond the for-credit version of the curriculum to participatevoluntarily with teams of students in other liberal arts disciplines, such as in the collaborativeinterdisciplinary program established at this institution to facilitate service learning; thereflective component reveals a student’s progress toward a broader educational perspective.

Underwood, H. R. (2013, June), Using the Portfolio Approach to Assess Multi-year Engineering Projects: a Case Study Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22729

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