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TH!NK: A Framework to Assess and Support Critical and Creative Thinking

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 5B: Work-In-Progress: 5 Minute Postcard Session II

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First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Anita Vila-Parrish North Carolina State University

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Anita R. Vila-Parrish is the Director of the Undergraduate Program and Teaching Assistant Professor in Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University. Before returning to graduate school, Anita worked in global new product operations at Dell Computers which afforded her the opportunity to travel and work closely with colleagues in Europe, Asia, and Latin America to launch laptop products worldwide. Anita received her PhD in Industrial Engineering at NCSU in 2010 and has since expanded her research in inventory optimization to include engineering education. Her experiences as an engineer have motivated the work done in this study as well as others that aim to improve the success of students entering the global landscape. She teaches the industry-sponsored capstone design course which has led to a second stream of research focused on developing methods to model problem-solving during capstone design.

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Tameshia Ballard Baldwin North Carolina State University

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Dr. Tameshia Ballard Baldwin is a Teaching Assistant Professor working jointly in the College of Engineering and in the Department of STEM Education within the College of Education at North Carolina State University. She earned a B.S. in Biological Engineering from North Carolina State University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Baldwin's primary focus is working across the Colleges of Engineering and Education on engineering education related initiatives. She teaches undergraduate courses in the First Year Engineering Program and in the Department of STEM Education. Dr. Baldwin's research interests include self-efficacy, motivation and persistence of underrepresented populations in STEM and engineering design in K-12.

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Lina Battestilli North Carolina State University Orcid 16x16

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Lina Battestilli is Teaching Assistant Professor of Computer Science at NC State University. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from NCSU in August 2005, her masters in Computer Networking in August 2002 also at NCSU and her BS in Electrical Engineering and Minor in Applied Mathematics from Kettering University in 1999.

Prior to joining North Carolina State University, Dr. Battestilli was a network research engineer at the Next Generation Computing Systems at IBM Research. She worked on the PowerEN Technology, a blur between general purpose and networking processors and hardware accelerators. She identified and studied workloads at the edge of the network that required high-throughput and fast deep-packet processing.

Her research interests include the transformation of Datacenter networking to support Cloud Computing, Software Defined Networking, Openflow, techniques and uses of Deep Packet Processing, scale-out architectures, advanced scheduling of network resources, Control & Management plane design and development. Dr. Battestilli’s is also interested in innovation in Computer Science Education, especially via the use of Cloud Computing Technology.

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Hailey Queen North Carolina State University

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Jessica Young Schmidt

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Susan Carson North Carolina State University

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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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