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Fostering the Development of Critical Thinking in an Introduction to Chemical Process Engineering Design Course

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Improving Introductory Experiences in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

17

Page Numbers

24.625.1 - 24.625.17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/20516

Download Count

35

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Paper Authors

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Gladis Chávez-Torrejón Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Gladis Chávez-Torrejón is Science, Engineering, and Technology Education Ph.D. Student at Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Mexico. She teaches psychology related courses. Her research interests include critical thinking, cognitive processes, and creating effective learning environments.

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Silvia Husted Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Silvia Husted is Science, Engineering, and Technology Education Ph.D. Student at Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Mexico. She teaches design related courses. Her research interests include creative thinking, cognitive processes, and creating effective learning environments.

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Nelly Ramirez-Corona Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Aurelio Lopez-Malo Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Enrique Palou Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Professor Palou is Director, Center for Science, Engineering, and Technology Education as well as Distinguished Professor and Past Chair, Department of Chemical, Food, and Environmental Engineering at Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Mexico. He teaches engineering, food science, and education related courses. His research interests include emerging technologies for food processing, creating effective learning environments, using tablet PCs and associated technologies to enhance the development of 21st century expertise in engineering students, and building rigorous research capacity in science, engineering and technology education.

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Abstract

Fostering the Development of Critical Thinking in an Introduction to Chemical Process Engineering Design CourseCritical thinking is the art of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a view to improving it1.According to Elder and Paul2 whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of viewbased on assumptions leading to implications and consequences. Thus, a well-cultivated criticalthinker: a) raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely; b) gathersand assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively; c) comes towell-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards; d)thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as needbe, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and e) communicates effectivelywith others in figuring out solutions to complex problems1, 2.This paper will describe in detail how a second semester cornerstone course is fostering thedevelopment of critical thinking in Chemical, Food, and Environmental Engineering students atUniversity ABC by developing students’ self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. Course two major projects were presented to experts in the field thatassessed students’ critical thinking by means of a specialized rubric3. Instructor, peer-, and self-assessments were also performed throughout the course on several assignments (formative) aswell as on two major projects (summative). Possible performance levels were from exemplary(value of 4, skilled, marked by excellence in clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth,breadth, logicality, and fairness) to unsatisfactory (value of 1, unskilled and insufficient, markedby imprecision, lack of clarity, superficiality, illogicality, inaccuracy, and unfairness).Mean values from rubric assessment of two major projects were 2.78 ± 0.58 for purposes(meaning that in average, students demonstrated an understanding of the assignment’s purpose),2.77 ± 0.77 for key questions, problems, or issues (students defined the issue; identified the coreissues, but may not fully explored their depth and breadth), 2.85 ± 0.47 for information (studentsgathered sufficient, credible, and relevant information, included some information from opposingviews, and distinguish between information and inferences drawn from it), 2.67 ± 0.74 forinterpretations and inferences (students followed some evidence to conclusions, but inferencesare more often than not unclear, illogical, inconsistent, and/or superficial), 2.23 ± 0.69 forassumptions (students are failing to identify assumptions, or failing to explain them, or theassumptions identified are irrelevant, not clearly stated, and/or invalid), 2.58 ± 0.67 for concepts(students identified some key concepts, but use of concepts was superficial and inaccurate attimes), 2.53 ± 0.59 for implications, and practical consequences (meaning that in average,students are having trouble identifying significant implications and consequences and/oridentifying improbable implications). The vast majority of students attained projects’ expectedcritical thinking outcomes between the level of competent, effective, accurate and clear, but lacksthe exemplary depth, precision, and insight, and the level of inconsistent, ineffective thinking;showing a lack of consistent competence: often unclear, imprecise, inaccurate, and superficial.Therefore, it is suggested to further integrate critical thinking in subsequent courses in order tofoster its meaningful development in Chemical, Food, and Environmental Engineering students4.[1] Paul, R. and Elder, L. 2008. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking. Concepts and Tools. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.[2] Elder, L. and Paul, R. 2007. The Thinker’s Guide to Analytical Thinking. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.[3] Foundation for Critical Thinking. 2013. Critical Thinking Grid. Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking Press.[4] Holyoak, K. J. and Morrison, R. G. (Eds.). 2005. The Cambridge Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Chávez-Torrejón, G., & Husted, S., & Ramirez-Corona, N., & Lopez-Malo, A., & Palou, E. (2014, June), Fostering the Development of Critical Thinking in an Introduction to Chemical Process Engineering Design Course Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20516

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