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Assessing Capstone Experience

Please cite as follows: Chan, CKY (2015). "Assessing Capstone Experience", Engineering Education Enhancement and Research Asia (E3R Asia).


What is Portfolio?

Portfolio (Blicblau, 2006) contains a collection of work conducted by the students over a time period. Paulson, Paulson, & Meyer (1991: 60) provides a formal definition of portfolio stating that portfolio is “a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress and achievements in one or more areas. The collection must include student participation in selecting contents, the criteria for selection, the criteria for judging merit and evidence of student self-reflection”. A portfolio can be paper-based or electronic-based. Electronic-based portfolio can be hosted on platforms such as “Mahara”.


Example 1:  The Capstone Project at Swinburne University of Technology

Students pursuing Mechanical, Robotics, and Mechatronics (R&M) conduct a capstone project at Swinburne University of Technology, where portfolio is being implemented as a type of assessment approach in the capstone project (Blicblau, 2006). The content for the portfolio for the capstone project includes the elements presented below.

Example 2:  Introduction to Civil Engineering Design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A course on Civil Engineering design introduces Civil Engineering students to techniques, theories, and tools of engineering design, to solve engineering problems creatively, to problems regarding design, and to civil engineering practices. The course covers several design cases with a focus on infrastructures (such as bridges, roads, and buildings). The course introduces a large scale design case, which is subsequently used in the teachings of other design subjects like the capstone design subject (Einstein, n.d.a).

According to Einstein (n.d.b), the content for a portfolio should include:

  • Explanation of the design problem and the development of the concepts for the design. 
  • Sketches or illustrations that depict the design, pictures of the design
  • Explanation of the rationale or theories behind the design
  • The planning of the design
  • Solutions to resolve designing problem and the limitations of the design
  • Documentations of the actual implementation of the design for instance prototyping and testing the design, simulations tests, the budget scheme and cost allocation.