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Expanding Our Students' Brainpower: Idea Generation And Critical Thinking Skills

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Novel Classroom Environments

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.541.1 - 7.541.7



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Paper Authors

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Julie Jessop

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

Main Menu Session 1313

Expanding Our Students’ Brainpower: Idea Generation and Critical Thinking Skills

Julie L. P. Jessop University of Iowa


How do we teach our students to think? This is not a skill that they can pick up by doing “X” number of homework problems; it is the product of good habits that must be practiced and honed on a daily basis. It is a state of mind that continually questions “Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?” In light of this reality, we developed this segment for the “Introduction to Literature Review and Proposal Writing” graduate course this past summer. Our goals during this three-day class period were:

- To define the creative process - To identify techniques that enhance creativity - To practice idea generation and critical thinking skills in controlled settings

This segment helps smooth the transition between the undergraduate mentality of “teach me” to the desired graduate student mentality of “enable me”. It attempts to demystify the creative process, which most people associate with inspired moments and geniuses, so that students can deliberately foster an atmosphere that will help them generate new research ideas.

Course History

“Introduction to Literature Review and Proposal Writing” was first developed two years ago as a required core course for incoming chemical and biochemical engineering (CBE) graduate students. The course has been offered two summers with a CBE faculty member coordinating course content and projects. Various CBE faculty members delivered individual lectures, and a team of CBE faculty members graded student work.

This year, course delivery has been modified to increase instructional continuity by assigning it to one CBE faculty member who delivers the majority of class lectures. It has also been moved to the spring semester of the first year for incoming graduate students. In this way, the students will move into their first summer prepared to focus on their research projects without the distractions of coursework.


New graduate students are often overwhelmed by the thought of developing innovative research ideas and writing a dissertation. Too often they are intimidated by the end product and do not realize that it is a process, not sheer luck or genius, that will lead them to their goals. Many students have developed bad habits that short circuit a healthy creative process and leave them

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Jessop, J. (2002, June), Expanding Our Students' Brainpower: Idea Generation And Critical Thinking Skills Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11341

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