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Integrating Critical Thinking & Writing Curriculum Into Freshman Engineering

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.609.1 - 6.609.7



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Paper Authors

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Patricia C. Tempel

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Hisham Alnajjar

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Beth Richards

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Andrea Brick Ader

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Ronald Adrezin

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

Session 2793

Integrating Critical Thinking and Writing Curriculum into Freshman Engineering B. Richards*, H. Alnajjar**, A. Ader*, R. Adrezin**, B. Isaacs** & P. Tempel*

University of Hartford


Being able to use critical and analytical skills, as well as the ability to communicate this thinking, are essential to people in engineering. At the University of Hartford, three faculty members from introductory engineering courses, and three faculty from the freshman writing program teamed for fall 2000 to develop engineering and writing classes that actively and deliberately overlapped. Classes were organized around a list of shared outcomes and shared activities developed during a series of workshops. Based on these shared outcomes, each team developed areas of specific content overlap and then developed shared, supporting activities.

This paper will discuss how shared outcomes and activities were developed, the progress of these classes through the semester, what we were able to achieve, and which elements looked good on paper but didn’t work in practice.


Faculty teams at the University of Hartford have been developing Freshman Interest Group (FIG) classes since 1996. With funding from a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, faculty in two departments, the College of Engineering and the Freshman Writing Program (Rhetoric, Language, and Culture, College of Arts and Sciences) undertook the challenge to more deliberately and creatively integrate the required freshman writing course and required introduction to engineering course. These faculty members began working together a little more than a year ago to integrate writing skills and engineering skills in the freshman curriculum.

Rhetoric, Language and Culture (RLC) 110, a required freshman course at the University of Hartford, teaches students critical thinking, reading, and writing skills. RLC 110 uses a three-part curriculum that helps students discern perspectives that are present in texts. The course also teaches students to analyze how these perspectives influence issues over time (historical analysis) as well as in a current context (culture analysis).

Engineering Science (ES) 141 is a freshman orientation course that introduces the engineering approach to solutions of problems of current interest. Students explore different fields of engineering through guest speakers, field trips, and research. They engage in basic design projects, report writing, and also learn relevant computer technology such as computer generated

* Rhetoric, Language and Culture ** College of Engineering

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Tempel, P. C., & Alnajjar, H., & Richards, B., & Ader, A. B., & Adrezin, R. (2001, June), Integrating Critical Thinking & Writing Curriculum Into Freshman Engineering Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9411

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