Training Students for Critical Thinking in an Electrical Engineering Core Course
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Analysis and Design of Control Systems is a core course in most Electrical Engineering programs in the United States. This course is the first course that provides a systemic view of engineering designs and links classroom knowledge to real-world applications. Training students for critical thinking (CT) skills in this class is essential to their career success. However, a high D and F grades and withdraw (DFW) rate has been observed in this course for years. The goal of this study is to redesign the course components to integrate critical thinking training into classroom activities and reform students’ habits in problem-solving. The new course components include a series of lectures on cognition, critical thinking, examples of famous engineering projects with critical thinking, and decomposition of critical thinking skills in classroom examples. Evaluation of the new course module was conducted based on critical thinking assessment test, two student surveys through the semester, three classroom observations, and students’ performance comparing against an untrained control group in the previous semester. Our results illustrated an effective way to improve critical thinking with this training module.