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Arguing to Solve Food Engineering Problems

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Biological & Agricultural Division Technical Session

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.234.1 - 26.234.17



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Paper Authors


Tammara Ramírez Apud L. Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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I am a research professor imparting university level complex thinking. My speciality is the design of learning environments based on troubleshooting for critical thinking development.

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Judith Virginia Gutierrez Cuba

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PhD. Science, Engineering and Technology Education. Postdoctoral Fellow at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico.

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Nelly Ramirez-Corona Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Nelly Ramírez-Corona is currently a Full Time Professor of Chemical Engineering at Chemical, Enviromental and Food Engineering Department, Universidad de las Americas, Puebla, México. Her teaching experience is in the area of Process Dynamics and Control, Kinetics, Catalysis and Reactor Design. She did her undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering at the Universidad Autónoma de Tlaxcala, México, and his Master and Doctoral studies at the Instituto Tecnológico de Celaya, México. Her research interests are in the field of Process Systems Engineering, Bioprocess ModelIing and Engineering Education. Her research labor has been reported on scientific international journals and presented in different national and international conferences.

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Aurelio Lopez-Malo Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Aurelio López-Malo is Professor and Past Chair, Department of Chemical, Food, and Environmental Engineering at Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Mexico. He teaches engineering and food science related courses. His research interests include emerging technologies for food processing, natural food antimicrobials, creating effective learning environments, and science, engineering and technology education for K-12.

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Enrique Palou Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Professor Palou is Director, Center for Science, Engineering, and Technology Education as well as Distinguished Professor and Past Chair, Department of Chemical, Food, and Environmental Engineering at Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Mexico. He teaches engineering, food science, and education related
courses. His research interests include emerging technologies for food processing, creating effective learning environments, using tablet PCs and associated technologies to enhance the development of 21st century expertise in engineering students, and building rigorous research capacity in science, engineering
and technology education.

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Arguing to Solve Food Engineering ProblemsProblem solving is an essential 21st century skill, specifically the ability to solve different kindsof problems and to identify and ask significant questions1. The cognitive processes that enablelearners to solve problems are the construction of problem schemas, analogical reasoning, causalreasoning, and argumentation.2 Argumentation is the means by which we rationally resolvequestions, issues, and disputes and solve problems. An argument consists of a claim (solution)that is supported by principles (premises), evidence, and rebuttals against potentialcounterarguments. Fostering argumentation in problem-solving learning environments (PSLEs)promotes problem solving.2, 3 Therefore, we designed and implemented some PSLEs for severalfood engineering courses (from 1st to 9th semester) at ABC University.Problems vary in different ways, so different kinds of problems call on different conceptions andskills2-4. Based on those differences among problems, different kinds of food engineeringproblems were developed such as decision-making, troubleshooting/diagnosis, and designproblems. In the full paper, we will describe in detail the cognitive skills2 that are required tosolve the implemented problems in our PSLEs throughout the food engineering curriculum, howthe practice and transfer of these cognitive skills were applied, how we included metacognitivestrategies, as well as how argumentation was utilized for assessing student problem-solvingability and cognitive skills that were required to solve tested problems2, 3.For seven PSLE assignments an Argumentation Rubric (adapted from Jonassen2), was utilized toassess students’ (n=87) argumentation skills, particularly adequacy of premises, credibility ofpremises, organization of arguments, quality of conclusions (claims), and writing (content/ideas).Student papers and videos (96 assignments) were evaluated by four assessors. Furthermore, themost common method for assessing argumentation, protocol analysis of student essays orresponses to questions, was performed by means of a qualitative data analysis software (Atlas.ti);identifying idea units within the essays or videos, and classifying those units with a codingscheme built from the Argumentation Rubric.In average, students from the eighth (18.7) and ninth (18.1), semester had higher scores (from atotal of 20 points) in the Argumentation Rubric than students from the first year (14.1), sincetheir credibility of premises, organization of arguments, and writing were adequate for first-yearstudents but could be further improved as further detected by protocol analyses. Therefore insubsequent semesters, specific argumentation scaffolds during problem solving wereimplemented in order to further promote them and help students detect inconsistencies in theirargumentations. Tested PSLEs favored the development of students’ ability to argue throughoutthe curriculum. Very important differences regarding argumentation among individual studentsfrom the same semester were detected by means of qualitative data analyses.Our results demonstrate that argumentation is an essential skill in learning to solve studied foodengineering problems as well as a powerful method for assessing problem-solving ability forboth ill-structured and well-structured problems alike as previously reported3 for otherdisciplines.[1] The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 2012. 21st Century Skills Framework. Available (October 13, 2014) at[2] Jonassen, D. H. 2011. Learning to Solve Problems: A Handbook for Designing Problem- Solving Learning Environments. Routledge: New York.[3] Jonassen, D. H. 2010. Assembling and Analyzing the Building Blocks of Problem-Based Learning Environments, in Handbook of Improving Performance in the Workplace, Volume One: Instructional Design and Training Delivery (K. H. Silber and W. R. Foshay, eds.), John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ.[4] Jonassen, D. H., Strobel, J., and Lee, C. B. 2006. Everyday problem solving in engineering: Lessons for engineering educators. Journal of Engineering Education, 95(2): 1–14.

Ramírez Apud L., T., & Gutierrez Cuba, J. V., & Ramirez-Corona, N., & Lopez-Malo, A., & Palou, E. (2015, June), Arguing to Solve Food Engineering Problems Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23573

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