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Improving Critical Thinking And Creative Problem Solving Skills By Interactive Troubleshooting

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Learning Enhancements for CHE Courses

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.669.1 - 8.669.7



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Paper Authors

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Nihat Gurmen

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John J. Lucas

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Dean R. Malmgren

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H. Scott Fogler

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

Session 3213

Improving Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving Skills By Interactive Troubleshooting

Nihat M. Gurmen1, John J. Lucas2, R. Dean Malmgren1, H. Scott Fogler1 1 Department of Chemical Engineering 2 Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2136

Abstract In today’s job market it is becoming increasingly important to demonstrate one’s critical thinking and creative problem solving skills in addition to the traditional engineering knowledge. One effective method for improving these skills involves the use of interactive computer modules. Particularly, the simulation of faulty operation has also the advantage of adding uncertainty of industrial settings.

Interactive computer modules that concentrate on troubleshooting help students to adopt strategies to deal with the inherent ambiguity in open ended problems, and see some general trends in the creative problem solving process. Interactive computing can greatly facilitate the learning of troubleshooting skills because of the rapid feedback, the alternate pathways the student may progress and the multiple solutions they can generate. Complementary to the traditional classes, interactive computer modules enable the students to create various what-if scenarios and to concentrate on critical thinking. Hence, interactive computer modules give students the opportunity to practice in divergent problem solving skills where there are multiple pathways to the correct solution. Furthermore, with these what-if scenarios they are able to look at the system from a broader perspective with the premise that it gives a deeper understanding of the technical concepts.

This work will demonstrate one of the interactive computer modules developed at University of Michigan for troubleshooting, MicroPlant. This interactive computer program simulates the faulty operation of a micro-plant in which ethyl benzene is converted to styrene. It contains over forty possible faults, two of which are assigned randomly when the student signs on to the program. The program is designed to encourage the student to troubleshoot the plant with critical thinking skills in situation and decision analysis.

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

Gurmen, N., & Lucas, J. J., & Malmgren, D. R., & Fogler, H. S. (2003, June), Improving Critical Thinking And Creative Problem Solving Skills By Interactive Troubleshooting Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12017

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