Stimulating self assessment and reflection in first year engineering using ePortfolios
Engineering graduates are required to demonstrate technical and generic competencies as well as continuing professional development skills throughout their career. As technical skills quickly become outdated, it is the lifelong learning skills and ongoing professional developments that enable graduates to adapt to changes in professional practices during their career. There is increasing agreement that the development and provision of evidence of such skills must begin at the university. Development within a program requires the alignment of learning activities and assessment tasks with graduate attributes and professional competencies. Equally important are the students’ self awareness about the progressive development of competencies and their ability to document them.
The University of South Australia (UniSA) introduced a common first year of study for all its engineering programs in 2008. As part of an overall strategy to enhance student engagement and learning, ePortfolios were introduced in 2009 to stimulate student self-assessment, reflection and to provide evidence of development. Students have used ePortfolios in three core courses in the first year in a variety of ways.
This paper presents the approach taken to introduce ePortfolios across the first year engineering program as well as the lessons learnt. Students’ overall perception on using ePortfolios has been captured using systematic surveys during 2009 and 2010. Analysis of this feedback along with staff experience and reflections on the issues highlight areas that are important to consider in the use of ePortfolios within an engineering program.
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