Academic journal article Peer Review

Institutional Uses of Rubrics and E-Portfolios: Spelman College and Rose-Hulman Institute

Academic journal article Peer Review

Institutional Uses of Rubrics and E-Portfolios: Spelman College and Rose-Hulman Institute

Article excerpt

Institutions are now turning to e-portfolios to demonstrate and communicate student achievement at the college or university level. Below, two very different institutions discuss how they have engaged faculty in developing rubrics and e-portfolios that articulate expectations for student learning and focus on the work students do in response to assignments and activities reflective of the curriculum and cocurriculum that embodies their education at their respective institutions. Rose-Hulman Institute developed its own e-portfolio system and outcome rubrics for purposes of program assessment to meet accreditation requirements. Spelman College uses a commercial e-portfolio platform and began assessing a single outcome for a specific set of students. Each was driven by a desire to know more about student learning and auricular improvement. The two institutions demonstrate two different ways to begin to use of rubrics and e-portfolios in intentional ways that involve the entire institution within that campus' mission and culture.


Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is a private, undergraduate college of 1,900 students located in Terre Haute, Indiana (www. It has a national reputation for educating undergraduates to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, engineering, and science, and has a strong track record of creatively developing and rigorously assessing pedagogies for teaching in these fields.

Defining Student Learning Outcomes

The school's commitment to undergraduate education is reflected in its institute-wide assessment process that includes a defined set of institutional learning outcomes and the Rose-Hulman electronic portfolio project, the RosE Portfolio System (REPS), winner of the 2007 Council on Higher Education Accreditation Award for Progress in Student Learning Outcomes. In 1997, school adrninistrators began the process of developing a set of institutewide student learning outcomes, outcomes that would constitute the set of skills all Rose-Hulman students develop by the time of graduation. These outcomes were designed based on input from a wide variety of constituents: faculty, alumni, industry (those who hire Rose-Hulman graduates), graduate schools, and other sources. By the end of the 1997-98 academic year, a set of institute student learning outcomes were in place, defined with specific performance criteria. These ten learning outcomes were adopted by the faculty of the institute and subsequently published in Rose-Hulman official documents, such as course catalogue and Web pages. In 2006, following the institution's program and institutional accreditation visits, the school reviewed the institute outcomes and revised them into the current set of six outcomes (available at www.rose-hulman. edu/REPS).

In addition to defining student learning outcomes, RoseHulman faculty also needed to develop an effective and efficient data-collection method. Thus, their work on defining student learning outcomes occurred simultaneously with designing an electronic portfolio system for the purpose of data collection for evidence of student learning. In 1997, there were no electronic portfolios systems available commercially that reflected RoseHulman's assessment model, so the institution developed its own portfolio. Since Rose-Hulman instituted a laptop computer requirement for all students in 1995 (one of the first colleges to do so), the college decided to use electronic portfolios. Thus, students were required to use an institute-specified laptop computer with a preinstalled software suite, which made the portfolio assessment process both effective and efficient since all dimensions of the process - from student submission to portfolio evaluation - occurred within an electronic system.

In summer 1998, REPS (the RosE Portfolio System) was piloted to evaluate a set of student submissions. Every year since then, REPS has been used to collect, evaluate, and report achievement in student learning outcomes to students, faculty, employers, graduate schools, and various accrediting agencies. …

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