Critical thinking is defined as the skill of analyzing and evaluating thinking with a purpose to advance it. It is reflective thinking focused on determining what to believe and do. Critical thinking is essential for students’ success in college. Several reports have been published regarding the lack of proper implementation of critical thinking in college instruction. According to several peer-reviewed studies, students are graduating from college without knowing how to differentiate between facts and opinions, without being able to present clear arguments, and without being able to evaluate a situation in an objective manner.
This NSF-IUSE sponsored project evaluated the critical thinking skills of seventy-seven first semester engineering students that were enrolled in a land-grant institution in the mid-Atlantic Region. All students were enrolled in College Algebra at the time of the study. Students completed a critical thinking assessment test (CAT) that assessed students’ ability to evaluate information, to think creatively, to solve problems, and to communicate information. The Paul-Elder critical thinking theory provided a framework to evaluate students’ reasoning skills using intellectual standards and elements of thought. This paper will present an analysis of the critical thinking skills of these students. This paper will be of benefit to all institutions searching for methods to implement critical thinking in their courses.
Lizzie Y. Santiago, Ph.D., is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. She holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering and has postdoctoral training in neural tissue engineering and molecular neurosciences. She teaches freshman engineering courses and supports the outreach and recruiting activities of the college. Her research interests include neural tissue engineering, stem cell research, attrition and university retention, increasing student awareness and interest in research and engineering, STEM education, critical thinking skills, and recruitment and retention of women and minorities.
Anika Pirkey currently works as a Chemical Engineer in the Pilot Plant Division of the Mid-Atlantic Technology, Research and Innovation Center (MATRIC) in South Charleston, West Virginia. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BSChE and BME Certificate in 2017 from West Virginia University (WVU) and will begin the doctoral program in Chemical Engineering at WVU in Fall 2019. While obtaining her undergraduate degree, Mrs. Pirkey worked with the Fundamentals of Engineering Program as a tutor, mentor, teaching assistant, and undergraduate researcher focusing on increasing retention rates of non-calculus ready first year engineering students. Other publications to which she has contributed include "Introducing First Year Engineering Students to Engineering Reasoning" and "Critical Thinking Skills in First Year Engineering Students" presented at the Annual ASEE Conferences in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
Mustapha Animashaun is a PhD student of the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, West Virginia University.He had MS in Petroleum Engineering and BS in Mechanical Engineering at King Fahd University of Petrol. & Minerals, KSA and Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria respectively.
Melissa Morris is currently an Assistant Professor in Residence in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She previously served as a Teaching Associate Professor for the Freshman Engineering Program, at WVU
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