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Electronic Portfolios|Family and Consumer Sciences

Using Electronic Portfolios for Curriculum Assessment
Recommendation to Submit a Proposal to
The Ellbogen Center for Teaching and Learning
Dr. Bernita Quoss
Proposal Summary

The FCS Curriculum Committee proposes to improve our established assessment activities through use of electronic portfolios and to submit a collaborative proposal to the Ellbogen Center for funding.  Our students, in their introductory course, acquire information on expectations for learning generic college skills as well as formats for documenting their learning through portfolios.  Their learning outcomes are assessed in their senior capstone course, but these assessments are not presently linked to the portfolio process.  Through this proposed project, use of electronic portfolios for documenting college skills, as introduced in FCS 1010, will become integrated with the outcomes assessment in FCSC 4010, and we also will identify options for using these portfolios across the FCS curriculum.  Student in the Fall, 2002 introductory course can be required to initiate use of electronic portfolios, understanding that their portfolios will be used for individual and program outcomes assessment, beginning in the Fall, 2004 capstone course.  Thus, the faculty will have two years to fully develop implementation of a systematic assessment process.

Funding would allow the committee to hire two consultants.  A Curriculum and Assessment consultant would assist in refining the college skills curriculum and also would recommend assessment standards and rubrics; a Technical consultant would assist in identifying and reviewing available electronic formats.  CC members would conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to select the most appropriate technology, considering the modal skill level of FCS faculty and students, server space and costs, and student hardware capacity, etc.  Periodic reports would be made to the faculty, and the faculty would hold an extensive decision-making meeting for final approval of the Portfolio Implementation Plan.  Funds must be spend by June 30, and a preliminary report is due in April.

Skills to be documented in eportfolios and assessed in FCS 4010:

            1.         Critical and creative thinking, including ethical reasoning

            2.         Oral and written communication

            3.         Applied understanding of global diversity

            4.         Information and computer literacy

USING ELECTRONIC PORTFOLIOS FOR CURRICULUM ASSESSMENT

Description and Purpose:  The Curriculum Committee (CC) of the Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) proposes to improve our established assessment activities through use of electronic portfolios.  The department's assessment activities were featured in the university's Self-Study Report for accreditation in 2000, and FCS use of student portfolios is reported in the AAHE Electronic Portfolio Clearinghouse.  FCS students, in their introductory course, acquire information on expectations for learning generic college skills as well as formats for documenting their learning through portfolios.  Students' learning outcomes are assessed in their senior capstone course, but these assessments are not presently linked to the portfolio process.  Through this proposed project, use of portfolios in the introductory course will be integrated with the capstone course assessment, and we also will identify options for using these portfolios across the FCS curriculum.  As one stage in an ongoing, work in progress, this project will focus on assessment of student learning outcomes for four college skills: 1) critical and creative thinking, including ethical reasoning; 2) oral and written communication; 3) global diversity; and 4) information/computer literacy.  The primary purpose of this project is program-focused: to initiate a comprehensive assessment of the department's teaching and learning process, by developing an implementation plan for assessment through electronic student portfolios.  There also are secondary objectives: a) to foster increased learning by students, through clarity of learning expectations, self-assessment, and required use of electronic portfolios to document learning, and b) to promote faculty development through planning by the six-member Curriculum Committee and involvement of the entire faculty through regular discussion, review, and approval of the portfolio project plan.

Rationale:  Tucker and Marshall (1992) and Bikson (1996) have reported on the concerns of corporate and university leaders in the United States, that documented declines in learning will affect the nation's economic growth.  In response to these concerns and demands, FCS developed the FCS Portfolio Guide to define and describe expectations for learning in several generic skills (see Attachment).  However, Barrett (1998) warns that electronic portfolios often "focus on the glitz and glamour of high tech multimedia, with little attention to...the standards achieved".  FCS chose to delay any use of its portfolio process for assessment, in order first to develop a strong foundation of standards for learning generic college skills.  Through ECTL funding to develop an electronic portfolio system, students in the Fall, 2002 introductory course can be required to initiate use of electronic portfolios, understanding that their portfolios will be used for individual and program outcomes assessment, beginning in the Fall, 2004 capstone course.  Deepening of student learning will occur because expectations are clearer, and students will be monitoring their own progress from freshman to senior core courses.  While the current project involves integration only of introductory and capstone courses, incorporation of portfolio assignments in subject-specific courses will be of portfolios across the curriculum.  Thus, the project will promote integrative thinking by students -making connections across all courses, particularly FCS courses.  This emphasis on integrative thinking supports: a) the discipline's historical mission, as discussed in the Academic Plan (pp. 38-39); b) the unit's AY 2001 goal to engage in curriculum revision for further integration; and c) the newest FCS initiative, a distance delivery degrees for child development and family life education options.  CC faculty will take a leadership role within the unit by examining models for electronic portfolios as well as assessment of skills.  CC will recommend a final electronic portfolio assessment model for the entire faculty's approval, thereby providing for faculty development as well as collaboration.

Two consultants will be hired to assist the CC.  A Curriculum and Assessment consultant will assist in refining the skills curriculum and also will recommend assessment standards and rubrics; a Technical consultant will assist in identifying and reviewing available electronic formats.  CC members will conduct SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to select the most appropriate technology, considering the modal skill level of FCS faculty and students, server space and costs, and student hardware capacity, etc.  Periodic reports will be made to the faculty, and the faculty will hold an extensive decision-making meeting for final approval of the Portfolio Implementation Plan.

Budget:  This is a labor-intensive project.  Each consultant will be hired for 13 weeks, 10 hours per week, at $15.00 an hour, totaling $3,900.  All other project costs will be absorbed by the department, including future implementation costs.  For example, the faculty could choose to purchase zip disks for each freshman student to use for organizing and storing portfolio documents, or, more ambitiously, could purchase its own web server and software site license to require web-based portfolios.

Timetable:  In November, CC will begin examining content, standards, and possible assessments for the 4 skills as well as models for electronic portfolios.  Ideas and issues will be reported to the entire faculty by the semester's end.  Consultants will be hired and oriented to the project by January, 2001.  In January through March, consultants will work with two CC teams (curriculum/assessment and electronic technology options).  By mid-March, skills standards and model assessment rubrics will be prepared, and the CC will conduct its analysis of portfolio models.  The implementation plan will be drafted for faculty review and decision-making in early April, and the ECTL report will be prepared.


Dissemination Plan:
  In addition to ECTL presentations, FCS will revise its AAHE Portfolio description and respond to inquiries about the project from the AAHE citation.  Strategies and resources to feature the project on the unit's website also will be developed.  Presentations will be developed for the College of Agriculture's forthcoming national conference on teaching critical thinking and writing.  The FCS-CC also will examine outlets for scholarly publications, including electronic journals, and will develop a Power Point presentation for individual members to use in making presentations on this project at subject-specific academic meetings.  Collaborative presentations will be delivered at professional conferences devoted to instruction in higher education.  In a later stage of the project, as individual faculty begin to incorporate portfolio assignments into other courses, these members may develop presentation on their work.  Finally, FCS may seek to publish its work as a book.

References

Barrett, H. (1998).  Strategic questions: What to consider when planning for electronic  portfolios.  Learning and Leading with Technology, October.  http://transition.alask.edu/www.portfolios?LLTOct98.htm

Bikson, T. (1996).  Educating a globally prepared workforce.  New approaches from   College and corporate perspectives.  Liberal Education, Spring, 12-19.

Marshall, R. & Tucker, M. (1992).  Thinking for a living.  Education and the wealth of   nations.  NY: Basic Books.

 

TIMETABLE

                                                                                    NOV               DEC                JAN                 FEB                 MAR               APR                

Hire, delegate tasks

Examine preliminary models to deepen
faculty knowledge base

Tech hire review +/- of available
electronic formats

Organize info on curriculum content

C-C conduct SWOT analysis of
electronic formats, develop detailed
specifications for faculty

C-C revise/complete content info

All-faculty meeting to
review/approve recommended
content and format

Final project report prepared                                                                                                                                                   

ECTE report submitted                                                                                                                                                                  *

 

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