Situation critical: critical theory and critical thinking in engineering education

TitleSituation critical: critical theory and critical thinking in engineering education
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsClaris, L, Riley, D
JournalEngineering Studies
Date Published2012/08/01
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number1937-8629
AbstractOver the last decade, there has been an increased focus on developing critical thinking (CT) skills within the engineering curriculum. Typically, the practice of CT occurs fragmentarily in a singular, limited context, within one of several ABET learning outcomes. Drawing on critical theory, theories of moral development, and pedagogies of liberation, we examine and challenge conceptions of CT presently used in engineering education. We develop a reflexive view of CT, leading to CT not only within but also about engineering. In this framework, CT can no longer be reduced to the application of skills, but is reconceived as creative action resulting from reflective engagement with epistemic assumptions. We implemented this integrative approach to CT across multiple course contexts and educational outcomes in engineering, finding that thinking critically about engineering can challenge power/knowledge relationships, critique engineering epistemologies, engage in reflective and reflexive practice, and work relationally for social justice.