June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.341.1 - 24.341.14
Alternative Analysis in the Curriculum: Making Better Decisions Stephen P. Mattingly, Andrew P. Kruzic, Yvette Pearson Weatherton, Ziaur Rahman and Heather Frost University of Texas at ArlingtonIn recent years, the funds allocated towards infrastructure maintenance and construction havesignificantly decreased. As these issues may exacerbate in the future, civil engineers must beable to assist public agencies and private organizations in the allocation decisions related to theuse of limited financial resources. Therefore, their ability to develop effective alternativeanalyses is a vital skill for their professional activity. In addition to technical issues, effectivedecision-making is critical for resolving ethical conflicts. Most importantly, critical thinkingskills enrich other aspects of the students’ learning process, as they face other challengingdecisions in their future.In an effort to develop a greater awareness and ability to conduct alternative analysis, theDepartment of Civil Engineering has revised its curriculum to include critical thinking as part ofthe undergraduate students’ learning experience. The revised curriculum starts in the freshmanyear by introducing students to the concept of higher order thinking and alternative analysis.During the sophomore year, the students are instructed to independently perform an alternativeanalysis on non-technical problems, such as a major purchase that they may face in life. Theseearly efforts are focused on improving student awareness and capability to enable higher ordercognitive skills, to be adapted to actual civil engineering problems during the junior and senioryears. Junior and senior level engineering students work on a variety of different alternativeanalysis problems focused on typical engineering topics for example, gas well site civilinfrastructure and roadway extension. In addition, the students explore their critical thinkingskills in addressing ethical quandaries.The courses’ effectiveness in improving student critical thinking skills is assessed by a pre-testand a post-test. Finally, the overall students’ progression during their undergraduate studies isevaluated by comparing the results of the critical thinking assessment test administered duringthe first semester of the freshman year and another test in the final semester of the senior year.
Mattingly, S. P., & Pearson Weatherton, Y., & Kruzic, A. P., & Frost, H. L., & Rahman, Z. (2014, June), Critical Thinking in the Curriculum: Making Better Decisions Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20232
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