Asee peer logo

Critical Thinking, Design Practices, and Assessment in a Fundamentals of Engineering Course

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division: Design

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ryan Munden Fairfield University

visit author page

Dr. Ryan Munden is Associate Dean of Engineering at Fairfield University. He received his PhD in Applied Physics from Yale University and a BS in Physics from Stetson University. His areas of interest include semiconductor nanowires, nanotechnology education, first-year engineering initiatives, and engineering service, outreach, and education.

visit author page


Marcia Arambulo Rodriguez Fairfield University

visit author page

Marcia Arambulo Rodriguez is the Assistant Dean of the School of Engineering at Fairfield University. She received her M.S. in Management of Technology from Fairfield University in 2015 and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Universidad Mayor de San Andres in La Paz, Bolivia.

visit author page


Djedjiga Belfadel Fairfield University

visit author page

Djedjiga Belfadel is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at Fairfield University. She obtained her Ph.D. degree from University of Connecticut in 2015, in electrical engineering. Her interests include embedded systems, target tracking, data association, sensor fusion, machine vision, engineering service, and education.

visit author page

author page

Michael Zabinski Fairfield University

Download Paper |


This Complete Evidence-based Practice paper will describe a longitudinal study of 6 years of enhanced attainment of course and programmatic outcomes in a Fundamentals of Engineering course. A process of continuous improvement of active learning techniques to achieve each course goal and demonstrate each outcome has resulted in more effective development of first-year engineering students. One of the signature assignments in the course, the short midterm research paper and presentation, demonstrates effective incorporation of elements from The Critical Thinking Initiative. It is a framework to teach a mentality of critical thinking, guide development of a researched writing piece, and as a rubric instrument to assess student critical thinking through writing. Student oral communication is another key outcome. A subjective rubric has been replaced with a transparent, straightforward, binary check sheet rubric. Another signature assignment in the course is a team-based design challenge. Evaluation of student performance was difficult and subjective. Through continuous improvement built on student feedback we developed a transparent method of evaluating the design challenge. We demonstrate the effectiveness of a simple check-sheet style rubric for evaluation of demonstrated design thinking and project management skills in the team-based design challenge. Results of this 6-year study show steady achievement of the course outcomes, with progress toward achieving all course goals.

Munden, R., & Arambulo Rodriguez, M., & Belfadel, D., & Zabinski, M. (2018, June), Critical Thinking, Design Practices, and Assessment in a Fundamentals of Engineering Course Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30241

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: © 2018 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