Interpreting critical thinking for engineering education - the views of employers and academics

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Title: Interpreting critical thinking for engineering education - the views of employers and academics
Authors: Ahern, Aoife
O'Connor, Tom
Mac Ruairc, Gerry
McNamara, Martin
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Date: Aug-2011
Online since: 2013-02-20T11:45:47Z
Abstract: Third level educators are increasingly being called on to clarify the nature of the education they provide and the contribution of their graduates to society. There is therefore considerable interest in the generic attributes of graduates (Jones 2009), and how educational institutions can describe the quality of their graduates in ways that are meaningful to a wide range of stakeholders, including employers, professional groups and policy makers (Barrie 2006). Critical thinking is considered by some to be the primary graduate attribute yet difficulties remain in arriving at precise definitions of the concept and how it is theorised for educational practice. This paper addresses this issue and offers a theoretical framework for critical thinking as it applies to engineering education. The paper will describe: a series of interviews and documentary analysis of course work and course descriptors in the university that examine the perspective of academics from various disciplines and students of critical thinking. Together these data have been used with Karl Maton’s Legitimation Code Theory to develop a model of critical thinking. Also described are plans for a series of interviews which draws upon the views of employers in engineering regarding the employability of university graduates and the importance of critical thinking as an attribute for newly qualified engineers. A key finding is that critical thinking, rather than being a static attribute which is at the pinnacle of student attainment, is a dynamic concept which requires educators to guide their students through cycles of engagement with grounded descriptive knowledge and knowledge which is abstract and obtuse.
Type of material: Conference Publication
Publisher: International Network for Engineering Education and Research
Copyright (published version): 2011, International Network for Engineering Education and Research (iNEER)
Keywords: Critical thinkingThird level education
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Language: en
Status of Item: Not peer reviewed
Conference Details: ICEE : An International Conference on Engineering Education : 21-26 August 2011 : Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Appears in Collections:Civil Engineering Research Collection

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