Electronic Portfolios as Tools for Collaborative, Outcomes-Based Course Assessment
Ellen Tufano, College of Professional Studies, Division of Computer Science, Mathematics and Science
Educational assessment is a major focus on college campuses, as administrators and accreditation agencies seek evidence of achievement of desired educational outcomes. Professors who teach college courses can be a major component of the assessment process, by self-assessing their courses to determine whether each course has achieved the objectives in its syllabus.
Electronic portfolios provide the means to link course objectives with evidentiary artifacts that demonstrate that an objective has been fulfilled. The synthesis of this study was to provide a new perspective on outcomes-based assessment of college courses, through the collaborative process of electronic portfolio development by the course instructors. This research utilized a case study of the Scientific Inquiry course at St. John’s University.
The study was conducted in two phases. During the Phase 1 semester, the Scientific Inquiry professors collected various assessment artifacts, examined them through the lens of the course objectives from the syllabus and classified each artifact as to which objectives it measured. I calculated the successful outcome percentage for each assessment and created the course portfolio. The portfolio included a document library for each syllabus objective, and linked the objectives to the course artifacts collected by the instructors. I conducted a focus group of the professors, at which we collaboratively reviewed the portfolio, exchanged ideas on assessment techniques, and noted those objectives that had little evidence of being met. I calculated a teaching effectiveness value comprised of the mean number of assessments per syllabus objective and the mean successful outcome percentage on those assessments. For Phase 2, the professors repeated the collection and classification process. I recalculated the teaching effectiveness value, and compared the results of the two phases. I determined that after the collaborative construction and review of the ePortfolio, the professors identified weaknesses of the course, and ultimately strengthened those weaknesses and taught the Scientific Inquiry course more effectively.