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Active Learning Exercises Requiring Higher Order Thinking Skills

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessment Strategies in BAE

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.159.1 - 8.159.8



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Paper Authors

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Ann Kenimer

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Jim Morgan

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2003-1237

Active Learning Exercises Requiring Higher-Order Thinking Skills

Ann Kenimer, Jim Morgan

Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University/ Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University


As active learning becomes accepted in engineering classrooms, more and more faculty members are using in-class exercises. While these exercises are instrumental in helping students gain experience with concepts and processes covered in class, they typically allow students to perform satisfactorily while thinking and working at the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (e.g. knowledge, comprehension, application). Term projects often are used to help students develop higher-order thinking skills and to bring design concepts into engineering courses. However, because projects have greater scope and larger work requirements, it is difficult to fit more than one or two projects into a semester-long course. Further, most students and many faculty view these longer-term assignments as mostly out-of-class work. While comprehensive and very worthwhile, these term projects are both burdensome to complete and cumbersome to grade. Hence, neither faculty nor students would relish increasing the number of these all-encompassing design projects attempted per semester. This paper describes efforts to develop and implement in- class exercises that encourage students to engage in higher-order thinking skills. The in-class exercise developed required only 10 to 30 minutes of class time, was easy to grade, and required meaningful work from the students. The exercise was developed for and implemented in an upper- division course in biological and agricultural engineering at Texas A&M University. Methods used to develop the in-class exercise, the specific exercise used, and results of implementation are discussed.


Often faculty complain that students do not adequately learn the material without realizing that they are meeting their expectations. This is illustrated by a real classroom scenario: "I use Bloom's Taxonomy, and I point out the lowest level. That level is knowledge: it's memorized facts... I put up a slide, and it says, "How many of you will be successful if you attain this level of learning?" They don't know where I'm going with this, and ninety-nine percent of them will say, 'That will get me an "A" or "B," if I can do that in class.'" (P. K. Imbrie, Purdue University as quoted on Clearly, engineering faculty would not be satisfied with

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ? 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Kenimer, A., & Morgan, J. (2003, June), Active Learning Exercises Requiring Higher Order Thinking Skills Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11523

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015