New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
This work in progress study describes a strategic university initiative (TH!NK) that is aimed at improving critical and creative thinking throughout the undergraduate curricula. The TH!NK initiative is part of the North Carolina State University's five year Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). This initiative is designed to train faculty to utilize strategies that cultivate students’ critical and creative thinking in the classroom. TH!NK provides a comprehensive framework for implementing strategies that support higher-order thinking skills through faculty training, mentoring, and formal assessment of student learning outcomes. In TH!NK courses, students are introduced to and given opportunities to evaluate their own work and that of others using the intellectual standards of critical thinking which include clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, significance, depth, breadth, logic, and fairness. In addition, students become familiar with standards for judging creative thinking such as originality, appropriateness, flexibility, and contribution to the domain. Student learning outcomes include the application of critical and creative thinking skills and intellectual standards in the process of solving problems. TH!NK began its second year in August 2015 with a cohort of approximately 40 faculty participating from across the university including computer science and first year engineering (FYE). In the first year of the TH!NK program, student learning outcome assessment data was collected using multiple methods. One method was the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT) developed by researchers at Tennessee Tech University that was administered in a pre- and post-assessment format at the beginning and end of the semester. Statistical analysis showed that there were significant gains in courses that used pedagogical approaches that emphasized critical and creative thinking multiple times throughout the semester. Faculty also design a discipline-specific assignment that would be assessed using the TH!NK Common Rubric, a modified version of the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Value Rubrics. The second year of the TH!NK initiative focused on first year courses, with an increased emphasis on first year engineering courses. Four faculty, two from the computer science department and two from the FYE program, are taking part in this second iteration of the initiative, resulting in substantial changes to the way they teach and assess their students. During the planning process in the summer 2015, it became evident that while these courses offered opportunities for students to work on projects, tools for assessing the students’ thinking were not extensively used. Specifically, prior to TH!NK while student artifacts were assessed, the design processes themselves were not assessed, and therefore students only received constructive feedback on work products, not work process. With the required TH!NK course revisions, there is an opportunity to improve the students’ thinking process which in turn should improve the quality of their final solution. The goal of this work-in-progress research project is to explore how emphasizing critical and creative thinking skills in the first year engineering were implemented in four engineering classrooms.
Vila-Parrish, A., & Baldwin, T. B., & Battestilli, L., & Queen, H., & Schmidt, J. Y., & Carson, S. (2016, June), TH!NK: A Framework to Assess and Support Critical and Creative Thinking Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26081
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