June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
26.1150.1 - 26.1150.10
CRITICAL THINKING AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING Veera Gnaneswar Gude* Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering Mississippi State University, Mississippi, MS 39762 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Ph. 530-751-6061 Environmental engineers provide creative and cost-effective solutions to use resourcesefficiently, limit the release of residuals into the environment, develop sensitive techniques to trackpollutants once released and find effective methods to remediate impaired resources. They serveas the vital link between scientific discovery, technological development and the societal need forprotecting human health and ecological integrity. In the coming decades, environmental engineerswill increasingly be called upon to address broader and complex issues of environmentalsustainability. As such, it is urgent to train the emerging engineers with adequate critical thinkingskills. This presentation will discuss the various methods to instill the critical thinking skillsthrough environmental engineering courses. The exercises, student experiences and the mentorobservations will be discussed for two different environmental engineering courses namely “CE356 Fundamentals of Environmental Engineering”, a junior level course and “CE 4863 Water andWastewater Engineering – Principles and Design”, a senior level course from two different civilengineering programs. Among the many alternatives, technical writing, supplemental instruction(SI), and interactive and collaborative learning to design and solve the engineering problems wereimplemented as tools to enhance the critical thinking skills of the junior and senior civilengineering students. Through writing assignments, students develop written communication skills as well as aprocess for thinking through and solving civil-environmental engineering problems. Writingassignments are used to create a practical context that deepens their understanding andcomprehension of the content area. Active learning in the classroom and self-directed learningoutside of class create opportunities for the students to identify questions which can be resolved inthe SI session. Students follow a set of steps to develop proper questions and find solutions to theirown questions by applying critical thinking skills. The course also requires the students to exercisecritical thinking skills as it involves design oriented open-ended problem solving. The studentimprovement through the SI sessions has been monitored for three consecutive semesters.Comparisons have been made between the SI group and non-SI group students in terms ofacademic performance throughout the semester. Bloom’s levels of learning have been consideredto measure the student learning through critical thinking exercises. This presentation willsummarize our experiences and provide a critical perspective for discussion on enhancing criticalthinking skills in civil and environmental engineering curricula.
Gude, V. G., & Truax, D. D. (2015, June), Methods to Instill Critical Thinking in Environmental Engineering Students Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24487
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