Foundations for Validating a Critical Thinking Rubric

Paul Golter, Bernard Van Wie, Gary Brown


There exists a need to develop and validate instruments to measure the non-technical professional skills we are being asked to develop in our undergraduate students. The resulting instruments need to use the language of the engineering disciplines so that they will be easily accessible to engineering educators.
Purpose (Hypothesis)
An established, generic critical thinking rubric has been modified so that it is specific to engineering design and problem solving in the real of fluid mechanics and heat transfer. This study begins to undertake the necessary, and lengthy, work of establishing the relevance of the modified rubric to a discipline specific set of stakeholders, including the future employers of chemical engineering students.
The rubric was used to rate a set of student assignments by three groups; students, academics, and alumni. Comparisons were drawn between the groups, and a follow-up survey was sent to the alumni to elicit information on the industrial relevance of the rubric and assignment.

There is a statistically insignificant, though consistent, trend toward students giving low ratings and alumni giving high ratings, with academics in the middle. These results are hampered by small sample sizes (n=8 in the case of student ratings.) The survey data indicate that the alumni would consider hiring 50% of this junior class to entry level positions based on this assignment.

Our results show good indication that the rubric is relevant to an industrial career. Further, the rating data, though inconclusive, give insight into differences between groups of stakeholders in an undergraduate education.


critical thinking;rubric

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Article #1726

JSTEM. ISSN: 1557-5284