June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
23.303.1 - 23.303.14
Combining In-class Design Problems and EFFECTs to Stimulate Critical Thinking SkillsAbstractThis study investigates the effectiveness of using in-class design problems that are combinedwith key elements from the Environments For Fostering Effective Critical Thinking (EFFECTs)pedagogical approach to stimulate and improve critical thinking skills of civil engineeringstudents. The study is carried out in an undergraduate Transportation Engineering course. Inthis course, the instructor schedules an in-class design problem (ICDP) at the conclusion of eachof the seven chapters/topics where students work in groups to solve the design problems. EachICDP is challenging and requires students to use most, if not all, of the concepts discussed inclass to solve. It is aimed to reinforce the concepts students learned in class and in doing thehomework.In this study, we explore how to use the ICDP to not only help students learn the class material,but also improve their critical thinking skills. To accomplish this, we use some key elementsfrom the EFFECTs pedagogy to get students to think and guesstimate an answer to a designproblem and to reflect on how the learned material helped them answer the design problem. Thespecific structure of the class is as follows. During the first lecture of each of the seven topics,the instructor provides a driving question that requires students to make an educated guess of theanswer to a design problem and to list the parameters they considered in estimating theiranswers. For example, one of the driving questions is “estimate the theoretical stopping distanceof a Honda civic with and without antilock brakes from 60 mi/hr on good, dry, level pavement.”The students are given time to answer the question on their own and then additional time todiscuss the answer with classmates. Each student records his/her answer as well as the group’sanswer. This is followed by lectures and homework in a series of subsequent classes. In thehomework, students are asked how the topics covered in class helped them answer the drivingquestion. Finally, the driving question is provided in the form of an ICDP. In solving the ICDP,students discuss the problem among themselves within the group and across groups. While theydo this, the instructor provides assistance as needed. At the end of the ICDP, students are askedto state how their final answers have changed from their initial answers and why, as a mean ofencouraging metacognition. Students’ responses to the homework and ICDP questions areassessed to determine the effectiveness of this approach to improve critical thinking skills.Those results are reported in this paper.
Huynh, N., & Caicedo, J. M., & Pierce, C. E., & Gantt, J. W. (2013, June), Combining In-class Design Problems and EFFECTs to Stimulate Critical Thinking Skills Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19317
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