E-portfolio Assessment System for an Outcome-Based Information Technology Curriculum

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Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice

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Introduction A major shift in the past decade has changed the focus in education from a teacher-centered instructional environment to a student-centered one (Brooks, 1997). As grades became insufficient to prove learning took place, universities in the USA and worldwide took a critical look at their educational systems. In 2002 a US national panel called for a dramatic reorganization of undergraduate education to ensure that all college students receive not only access to college but also to an education of lasting value (http://www.aacu.org). One recommendation was that colleges and universities help students become "intentional" life-long learners and create new assessment techniques that allow students to apply their learning to real world problems. In an effort to shift the focus from the traditional lecture style to a student-centered learning style, a number of academic institutions in the US have adopted an outcome-based education framework. Outcome-based education is a method of education that focuses on what students can actually do after they are taught a particular subject. All curriculum and teaching decisions are made based on how to best facilitate the achievement of a desired outcome. This exercise leads to a planning process that is quite different from the traditional educational planning method. The desired outcome is first identified, and then the curriculum is created to support the intended outcomes (Furman, 1994). E-portfolios have been used to document student work to demonstrate learning (American Association for Higher Education. 2008, Smith & Winking-Diaz, 2004). Unlike paper-based portfolios, e-portfolios allow information to be stored, accessed, updated, and presented in various electronic formats to record students achievements. E-portfolios are being adopted at a growing number of colleges and universities in the USA and abroad (Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005. Several US universities have adopted the e-portfolio assessment concept, including California Lutheran University (http://ww2.clunet.edu/soe/webfolio/index.php), Portland State University (http://www.pdx.edu/unst/frinq.htm), John Hopkins University(2008) (http://cte.jhu.edu/dp/support), the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (http://www.eportfolio.org), and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (http://www.opd.iupui.edu/coil/eport.htm). For faculty, the e-portfolio can be an effective tool to better manage, review, reflect, and comment on students' work. For students, the e-portfolio enriches their resume, both before and after graduation. In the gulf region the adoption of outcome-based educational models and e-portfolios has been slow. Zayed University (ZU), a fairly recent university located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has adopted an outcome-based Academic Program Model (APM) and the use of e-portfolios to document student learning (Zayed University, 2008a). The ZU e-portfolio assessment system (EAS) was created to allow faculty to assess specific components of student academic work that includes various learning outcomes. Moreover, faculty members use data from the EAS to evaluate how courses are meeting college and university goals. The achievement of learning outcomes and the compilation of e-portfolios has become an important component of the grade point average (GPA) assessment system. E-portfolios enable students to improve and focus their learning and provide them with a tool to showcase their skills. The EAS can be used to measure whether the curriculum meets institution and college/major learning outcomes: Zayed University Learning Outcomes (ZULOs), and Major's Learning Outcomes (MALOs). Currently, ZU has approximately 4000 students and has two campuses, one in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai, UAE. ZU follows a US based academic model and is perhaps the first university in the Gulf to adopt the e-portfolio to help students achieve learning. During the last six years, the implementation of the APM model was used to facilitate the inclusion of learning outcomes into various courses across ZU curricula. "¦




Informing Science Institute



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Computer Sciences | Education

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Bronze: This publication is openly available on the publisher’s website but without an open license