Constructivist e-portfolios: The use of media in the collecting and evidencing of student learning

Crehan, M., Seery, N., Canty, D. and Lane, D. (2012) Constructivist e-portfolios: The use of media in the collecting and evidencing of student learning. [Conference Proceedings]


Lewis argues that there are a variety of generative cognitive processes that are more likely to occur in technology education than elsewhere in the curriculum1. Design based Technology Education supports the development of higher cognitive thinking and problem solving skills, where students have the capacity to express their creativity and innovation through the completion of the artefact they design, manufacture, and report on2. For effective higher order cognitive learning to occur students are encouraged to record and evidence their design evolution and development as the design journey progresses. Many of the current assessment models adopted in Design based Technology Education inadvertently encourage students to adopt a structured, linear approach in reporting on design activities. This structured approach can often lead to reverse engineering of the design portfolio subsequent to the students' convergence on their initial design idea. The reverse engineering of portfolios places greater emphasis on the end-product and removes the focus from the design journey undertaken. This study investigates a cohort of initial teacher education students (n=27) as they participate in a design-based module to solve a semi-open design brief. Throughout the design journey students were encouraged to simultaneously collect data which they felt was relevant in the communication of their capability and learning throughout the design task. This data was then presented through the use of a non-criterion referenced e-portfolio system. The usage of common media types emerged and are presented in relation to the four stages of Kolb's learning cycle. The findings identify six predominant media types utilised by the students in the collection and representation of data which informed their final design outcome. These findings are presented under the four stages of Kolb's learning cycle and identify the occurrences of each stage throughout the portfolios. The manner in which students utilised different media at different stages of their learning is analysed and outlines the dominance of various media types to communicate various stages of student learning. This is of significant importance to Design based Technology Education as it outlines the importance of constructivist eportfolios in addressing the linear design approach and allows for a clearer interpretation of students' learning. The evidence presented clearly demonstrates how students represented the various stages of learning through the media available which has significance for course designers planning to use electronic portfolios. © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education.

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