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Board # 129 : Introducing First Year Engineering Students to Engineering Reasoning

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Lizzie Santiago West Virginia University

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Lizzie Y. Santiago, Ph.D., is a teaching associate professor for the freshman engineering program in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. She holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and has postdoctoral training in neural tissue engineering and molecular neurosciences. She teaches freshman engineering courses and supports the outreach and recruiting activities of the college. Her research interests include neural tissue engineering, stem cell research, absorption of air pollutants in human upper airways, attrition and university retention, increasing student awareness and interest in research and engineering, STEM education, and recruitment and retention of women and minorities.

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Sai Sadhika Veeramachaneni West Virginia University


Melissa Lynn Morris West Virginia University

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Melissa Morris is currently a Teaching Assistant Professor for the Freshman Engineering Program, in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University (WVU). She graduated Summa cum Laude with a BSME in 2006, earned a MSME in 2008, and completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering in 2011, all from WVU. At WVU, she has previously served as the Undergraduate and Outreach Advisor for the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and the Assistant Director of the Center for Building Energy Efficiency. She has previously taught courses such as Thermodynamics, Thermal Fluids Laboratory, and Guided Missiles Systems, as well as serving as a Senior Design Project Advisor for Mechanical Engineering Students. Her research interests include energy and thermodynamic related topics. Since 2007 she has been actively involved in recruiting and outreach for the Statler College, as part of this involvement Dr. Morris frequently makes presentations to groups of K-12 students, as well as perspective WVU students and their families.

Dr. Morris was selected as a Statler College Outstanding Teacher for 2012, the WVU Honors College John R. Williams Outstanding Teacher for 2012, and the 2012 Statler College Teacher of the Year.

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Critical Thinking is defined as self-reflective thinking; it is the art of analyzing thinking with the purpose of improving it. Critical thinking is one of the 21 century skills that students must develop in order to succeed in the information age. Even though instructors recognize the importance of promoting critical thinking skills in instruction, most instructors don’t feel well equipped to teach those skills. This paper summarizes the main results from a study aimed at improving critical thinking skills in first year engineering students that are not calculus ready.

Specifically, the study involves the development of a course to teach critical thinking skills to first year engineering students that are non-calculus ready. Seventy students have participated in the study, with critical thinking skills being assessed using standardized tests as well as using rubrics developed by the investigators. The structure of this NSF sponsored course was presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference. For the second year of this NSF grant, the investigators are expanding thinking skills to include mathematical thinking skills. The focus of this paper is on the mathematical thinking skills promoted in students and how they were evaluated. Areas of weaknesses in students’ mathematical thinking were identified and specific activities were developed to address those areas of concern. Since first year engineering students tend to struggle in math, this study is essential to improve the retention of engineering students, especially those that are non-calculus ready. Institutions searching for ways to improve the retention of non-calculus ready engineering students will benefit from attending this presentation.

Santiago, L., & Pirkey, A. C., & Veeramachaneni, S. S., & Morris, M. L. (2017, June), Board # 129 : Introducing First Year Engineering Students to Engineering Reasoning Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27726

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