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Cultivation of critical thinking in undergraduate engineering education


Adair, D and Jaeger, M, Cultivation of critical thinking in undergraduate engineering education, SEFI 2015 Annual Conference - Full papers, 29 June - 02 July, Orleans, France, pp. 1-8. ISBN 978-2-87352-004-5 (2015) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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Copyright 2015 SEFI

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The quality of students’ and engineers’ thinking, and how they think, determines the quality of what they design, produce or make. Moreover, students and engineers today largely work with and, unquestioningly contribute to, the policies and agendas of the socially accepted market driven, pro-development standpoint. So, in addition to the importance of critical thinking during technical development, critical thinking is also important to positioning students and engineers from a stance of social justice, and so allowing them to question effectively the efficacy of developments. Just as is found in many professions, engineers now need, more than ever, strong critical thinking skills to deal with a world of increasingly rapid change and complexity.

In this work a definition of what the authors conclude critical thinking actually is will be given, based on the many ideas which can be found in the literature. The results of a small survey of how students view critical thinking in relation to themselves and how necessary they feel critical thinking is, will be reported as will how a preliminary initiative to cultivate more and systematic critical thinking within various mathematics modules found in an undergraduate engineering course was implemented and assessed.

It has been concluded that most students already consider themselves as effective critical thinkers, which may or may not be self-delusion. Also, it was quickly recognized that although workshops and seminars on critical thinking have their place to initiate awareness, a systematic semi-implicit approach over a period of time is very necessary to cultivate critical thinking. That is, once the principles of critical thinking are grasped and, importantly accepted by the student, then a period of time is necessary for cultivation, practice and hopefully becoming second nature.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:critical thinking, undergraduate
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Curriculum and pedagogy
Research Field:Curriculum and pedagogy theory and development
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Adair, D (Dr Desmond Adair)
UTAS Author:Jaeger, M (Dr Martin Jaeger)
ID Code:105566
Year Published:2015
Deposited By:Engineering
Deposited On:2016-01-07
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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