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Critical Thinking: Is That Going to Be on the Test?

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Issues in Engineering Technolgy Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.424.1 - 26.424.8



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Paper Authors


E. Shirl Donaldson Purdue University, West Lafayette

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E. Shirl Donaldson received a doctorate of philosophy in Industrial Technology from Purdue University December of 2012 and is currently a clinical assistant professor teaching mechanical engineering technology and electrical engineering technology courses.
A strong advocate of inclusionary practices in education and business, she encourages students to work to their strengths while constantly expanding their skill sets and prospective of life. She has mentored several graduate and undergraduate students in areas of progression and transition from undergraduate to graduate studies, research, and study abroad.
Her research agenda and commitment to intellectual growth is driven by her life experience. While completing her Master’s degree and for several years after, she worked in a family owned manufacturing firm. As a doctoral student, Shirl was recognized as an AGEP scholar and received the Bilsland Fellowship. Outstandingly, she collaborated in the creation of an innovation course and taught the initial offering. Until August 2014, she was a post-doctoral fellow researching entrepreneurship, innovation, and diversity.
Today Dr. Donaldson’s research interests include entrepreneurship, innovation, manufacturing, technology management, and diversity in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields of study. She examines how academic and industrial environments enable effective learning, discovery, and realization of new and transferred knowledge

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Anne M Lucietto Purdue University, School of Engineering Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Lucietto has focused her research in engineering education and the understanding of engineering technology students. She teaches in an active learning style which engages and develops practical skills in the students. She is currently exploring the performance of engineering technology students and better ways to teach in an authentic manner. Her focus is on students studying thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.

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Critical Thinking Is that going to be on the test?The current generation of college students are the “No Child Left Behind Act”. Educators at theuniversity level are seeing the unintended result of high stakes testing in student attitudes towardslearning and study.. The K– 12 educational system in the US focuses on mastering tests andaccruing points in a course, most often “teaching to the test.” These tests are standardized andcritical to the promotion and later acceptance into college. It is this activity that provides a basisfor student perception of how learning and assessment take place.When these students are challenged with higher order learning or problems that may have morethan one correct solution, they become uncomfortable and often retreat. The concept of not beinggiven direct instructions at every level of an activity or an all-encompassing rubric is perceived asbeing “unfair”. University educators are challenged support “test-trained” students in a settingthat moves the learning activities up to the higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The educators arefurther challenged to encourage critical thinking and problem solving in the classroom to as mostemployers expect these students to graduate with this skills.A professor at a large Midwest land grant institution gave a senior level quality course an activitythat challenged the students to define critical thinking and demonstrate it. The results andpotential implications are discussed in this article. Eighty- two percent of the students werescheduled to graduate at the end of the semester. Fifty- seven percent did not adequately definecritical thinking or demonstrate it. Twenty percent of the students had received offers ofemployment two months before graduation. The lack of job offers could be reflective of acompetitive job market or a lack of readiness of the students for the workforce. We will developrecommendations and further research goals in an attempt to recommend ways to master criticalthinking and develop problem solving skills throughout the curriculum in an engineeringtechnology program.

Donaldson, E. S., & Lucietto, A. M. (2015, June), Critical Thinking: Is That Going to Be on the Test? Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23763

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