Incorporating Critical Thinking into an Engineering Undergraduate Learning Environment

Desmond Adair, Martin Jaeger


Critical thinking extends to all aspects of professional engineering, especially in technical development, and, since the introduction of the ABET 2000 criteria, there has been an increased emphasis in engineering education on the development of critical thinking skills. What is hoped for is that the students obtain critical thinking skills to complement their abundant logical thinking skills. Critical thinking is a developmental skill that cannot be taught simply by traditional methods, i.e., step-by-step instruction followed by repetitive skills, as used for logical thinking skills. The research and development reported here is concerned with outlining how students first can be alerted to what critical thinking is, and how critical thinking can be nurtured through practical experience with appropriate guidance and reinforcement. The module ‘Introduction to Fluid Mechanics’ has been selected to demonstrate how  formal critical thinking components may be introduced with the development of principles of logic and an obligatory problem solving procedure. A method of assessment during various phases of critical thinking, i.e., initial design or set-up, testing of method or prototype, and evaluation of the results, of open-ended assignments in engineering for each year of the undergraduate course has been developed.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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