Monday, November 15, 2004

Electronic Portfolios

I am trying to make electronic portfolios and the formative and sumative assessment of economic majors a specialty of mine. I have been presenting papers on this across the country and have been doing a bit of proposal writing for support of continued research. The department's requirements for the student portfolio as well as links to students actual portfolios can be found here.

In 2000 the Department of Economics at The University of Akron revised its curriculum at the undergraduate level and created a need for certain specialized courses and processes. One course, Computer Skills for Economic Analysis, provides computer skill scaffolding under students while tying each skill to the economic proficiency needs of an undergraduate Economics. From an assessment perspective, faculty need to pay adequate attention to achievement of certain expectations for graduates of our program (e.g., compliance with the Hansen proficiencies). Because this course is located early in the curriculum, subsequent courses have more time to meet their requirements, for example, cultivating the ability to interpret and manipulate economic data, to apply existing knowledge, and to create new knowledge. The course addresses the issue of both formative and summative assessment of the undergraduate major and provides a different kind of scaffolding for the assessment of the department through the use of the electronic portfolios created by the students in this course. As the student progresses, certain artifacts from other classes will be placed in their electronic portfolios, such as research papers and presentations. A reflection statement is included with each posting of an artifact.

The student-created electronic portfolio begins as a course portfolio, becomes a comprehensive student portfolio during the undergraduate career, and finally emerges as a professional portfolio displaying students and their abilities to prospective employers. Students are required to put their portfolios on the local Intranet, and some of the students are proud enough of their portfolios to place a copy on the Internet on their student accounts. As novel as this might be in economics, this was not the first time our students have created portfolios. While we did not call them electronic portfolios, my colleagues Richard Stratton, Fred Carr and I taught, in 1996 and 1997, four courses for K-12 teachers that had them create lessons in economics to integrate into their classes, using multimedia and the Internet, with their ‘product’ displayed in what I now call electronic portfolios. Some of those presentations can be found on my web page

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