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Critical Thinking Instruction and Minority Engineering Students

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Pay It Forward: Critical Thinking, Reflection and Faculty Engagement Promote Success in Engineering

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.403.1 - 22.403.23



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Paper Authors


Annette Mallory Donawa Independent Consultant

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Dr. Annette Mallory Donawa resides in Maryland with her husband and two children. She received her Bachelor’s and Doctoral degrees from higher education institutions in Maryland: Towson University and Morgan State University. She received her Master’s degree from Illinois – Northern Illinois University. Dr. Donawa has more than 25 years of experience comprising of K-12 and higher education, corporate training, and human resources. Her doctoral research focused on examining the outcomes of critical thinking instruction with minority engineering students. Dr. Donawa’s goal is to continue her research in critical thinking to broader audiences, having a greater impact on student retention and graduation rates. Dr. Donawa has travelled extensively throughout the U.S. and West Africa where she has trained corporate and government personnel. She feels honored to have presented her research on critical thinking for ASEE in Chicago (2005) and Hawaii (2008).

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CRITICAL THINKING INSTRUCTION AND MINORITY ENGINEERING STUDENTS AT A PUBLIC URBAN HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION The enhancement of critical thinking skills is necessary for studentspursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)disciplines. A three-year mixed methods study conducted at an urban institutionin Maryland focused on enhancing critical thinking skills for African Americanstudents. A total of ninety students participated in a summer residentialenrichment program during 2006-2008. The quasi-experimental study consistedof 50 students in the experimental group and 40 students in the control group. A standardized critical thinking assessment, the Cornell Critical Thinkingassessment, was administered as a pre- and post-test which gave implications tothe effectiveness of a critical thinking intervention that was implemented in theexperimental group. Quantitative data collection and analyses focused on resultsfrom the pre- and post-test results, while qualitative data collection and analysesconsisted of textual analyses of students’ written narrative statements andinterviews with engineering faculty.The most important implication of this study is that integrating critical thinkingpedagogy opposed to rote memorization into curricula will better prepare studentsfor careers in STEM disciplines. The study includes several recommendationsregarding the integration of critical thinking pedagogy for college and universityadministrators and faculty. Summary of Critical Thinking Pedagogy Pedagogy Researcher(s)1. In-class active learning exercises Tsui, (1998, 1999)2. Class discussions, debates, role plays, Braxton, Milem, & Sullivan, collaborative learning (2000); Paul & Elder, (2002, 2006); Tsui, 1998, 1999)3. Synthesizing chapters and articles Paul & Elder, (2003, 2004)4. Paraphrasing real-time Paul & Elder, (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)5. State, Elaborate, Explicate, and Paul & Elder, (2002, 2004) Illustrate (SEEI) model6. Frequent interaction with faculty Braxton, Milem, & Sullivan; (2000); Gellin, (2003); Tsui, (1998)7. Out of class experiences, involvement Gellin, (2003) in clubs, and social activities8. Peer-reviewed papers Tsui, (1998, 1999)9. Self-reflection and assessment Fowler, (2003)10. Apply deep approach to learning Fowler, (2003); Lee, (2004)11. Practice solving ill-structured, open- Fowler, (2003); Lee, (2004) ended problems with unlimited solutions12. Teacher/Professor preparation Jackson, (1995); Paul & Elder, (2003, 2004); Tsui, (1998, 1999)13. Practical application so knowledge construction occurs individually Gordon & Brown, (2004)14. Help students connect and find Diamond, (1998) meaning enables them to retain information15. Frequent writing assignments, Darling-Hammond, (2000) thoughtful examination

Donawa, A. M. (2011, June), Critical Thinking Instruction and Minority Engineering Students Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17684

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