Asee peer logo

Implementing And Assessing A Hierarchical Cognitive Model To Educate Engineering Undergraduates

Download Paper |


2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Assessing Teaching and Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.664.1 - 8.664.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

S. Michael Kilbey

author page

Richard Rice

author page

Scott Husson

author page

Graham Harrison

author page

Douglas Hirt

author page

David Bruce

author page

Charles Gooding

author page

Debi Switzer

Download Paper |

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

Implementing and Assessing a Hierarchical Cognitive Model to Educate Engineering Undergraduates

D.M. Switzer‡, S.M. Husson†, D.A. Bruce†, C.H. Gooding†, G.M. Harrison†, D.E Hirt†, S.M. Kilbey II†, R.W. Rice† † Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634 / ‡ School of Education, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634

This article describes the implementation and assessment of using a hierarchical model of mental growth as the basis for developing critical thinking skills and engineering judgment in engineering undergraduates. Briefly, the hierarchical cognitive model of Egan provides our roadmap for developing effective teaching and learning strategies that are applied to core engineering courses taught in the sophomore and junior years. These strategies strengthen low- level cognitive skills in sophomores and juniors that provide a proper foundation on which high- level cognitive skills can be developed. Our assessment instruments track individual students, allowing us to monitor student growth and evaluate the effectiveness of these teaching and learning strategies for populations with different exposures to experimental treatments. Results to-date indicate that a significant difference exists (p < 0.06) in metacognitive self-regulation between students who have one experimental treatment and those with two or more. The latter students are more effective at planning, monitoring, and regulating their cognitive activities than the former. They tend also to participate in a task more often for reasons such as challenge, curiosity, or mastery; and, they express more positive attitudes towards professional development.


Previously1, we introduced an approach to integrate a hierarchical cognitive model into an undergraduate engineering curriculum, described teaching and learning strategies to support that model, and presented preliminary assessment results for the implementation of those strategies on student development. Briefly, the hypothesis that drives this work is this: Mental growth constitutes a progression through a hierarchy of cognition; the critical thinking and judgment required of engineers lies at an upper level of the hierarchy, and, to reach high levels, an individual must master lower-level cognitive skills and reorganize knowledge gained at lower levels.

Our overarching goal is to develop higher-level thinking skills in chemical engineering students before they reach their senior years. To reach that goal, we are applying the hierarchical model of Egan2 as the basis for developing teaching and learning devices that are used in core

Proceedings of the 2003 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Kilbey, S. M., & Rice, R., & Husson, S., & Harrison, G., & Hirt, D., & Bruce, D., & Gooding, C., & Switzer, D. (2003, June), Implementing And Assessing A Hierarchical Cognitive Model To Educate Engineering Undergraduates Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11653

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: © 2003 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