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Environments For Fostering Effective Critical Thinking (Effects).

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.565.1 - 13.565.2



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Paper Authors


Juan Caicedo University of South Carolina

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Juan M. Caicedo is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Carolina. He received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Universidad del Valle in Colombia, South America and his M.S. and D.Sc. from Washington University in St. Louis. His research focus includes structural dynamics, model updating and engineering education. In the area of engineering education he is interested in the development of critical thinking and engineering judgment. He is also interested in the use of technology in the classroom. He is currently leading the efforts for the development of Environments for Fostering Effective Critical Thinking with the financial support of the National Science Foundation.

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Joseph Flora University of South Carolina

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DR. Joseph R.V. Flora is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Carolina – Columbia. He received a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of the Philippines, a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Cincinnati. His research interests are in the areas of environmental process modeling, quantum modeling, electrochemically-mediated biological degradation, and water, wastewater, and hazardous waste treatment. He is a licensed professional engineer in the State of South Carolina.

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Charles Pierce University of South Carolina

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Andrew Nichols Marshall University Orcid 16x16


Briana Timmerman University of South Carolina

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Briana Timmerman is a Research Associate Faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences and an Assistant Dean in the SC Honors College. She has several NSF science education research projects, but this is her first opportunity to work in the area of engineering education. Her research focuses on the area of curriculum design to develop critical thinking and research skills, as well as conceptual change. In addition, she has developed a Universal Rubric for Laboratory Reports which measures students' scientific reasoning and science writing skills and has been demonstrated to be reliable regardless of biological course content area.

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Wiley Graf Midlands Technical College

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Environments For Fostering Effective Critical Thinking (EFFECTs).


The ability to make decisions based on solid engineering judgment is directly related to the success of professional engineering careers. Engineering judgment results from acquisition of core knowledge and technical skills, application of critical thinking, and reliance on previous engineering experiences. Traditional lectures can be effective in the transfer of core knowledge, technical skills but leave the development and application of critical thinking to the student. The Environments For Fostering Effective Critical Thinking (EFFECTs) are modular inquiry based tools specifically designed to develop critical thinking skills, collaborative teamwork skills and improving the transfer of core knowledge in engineering classes. This paper describes current activities to develop EFFECTs in the Civil Engineering undergraduate curricula. The overarching goal of the EFFECTs is to facilitate students’ critical thinking skills in a manner that will encourage the eventual development of engineering judgment.

Six disciplines of civil engineering are used to provide the appropriate context for the EFFECTs: Environmental, Geotechnical, Structural, Surveying, Transportation, and Water Resources. The structure of each EFFECT is as follows: individual, group discussion of, and classroom of responses to a driving question in the discipline during the first meeting; hands-on activities during the succeeding meetings; and a final meeting where students discuss within their group what was learned and determine to determine the best approach to address the driving question. The answer to the driving question is documented in an individual report. Throughout each EFFECT, students are asked specific questions in the discipline that will be studied during the next several sessions and are required to document their response in an online journal.

Four major data sources are being used in a mixed methods approach synthesizing multiple perspectives over time to capture the development of students’ abilities. These include: i) a pre- post written test of both core knowledge and fundamental skills, ii) open-ended, written decisions responding to each EFFECT’s driving question, iii) journal entries, and iv) evaluation of capstone design projects by members of a professional review panel during their senior year. Preliminary data suggest that the combination of group discussion and hands-on investigation within a specific engineering context stimulate reflection and development critical thinking.

The EFFECTS are currently being implemented this Fall 2007 in a new Introduction of Civil Engineering freshman course at the University of South Carolina, in a similar course at Marshall University, and in sections of existing courses at Midlands Technical College. Details of the activities will be documented in the paper and during the conference presentation.

Caicedo, J., & Flora, J., & Pierce, C., & Nichols, A., & Timmerman, B., & Graf, W. (2008, June), Environments For Fostering Effective Critical Thinking (Effects). Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3985

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: © 2008 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