Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

A Proposed Case-Based Learning Framework for Fostering Undergraduate Engineering Students’ Creative and Critical Thinking

  • Published:
Journal of Science Education and Technology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Scholars and international bodies have highlighted the need to foster undergraduate engineering students’ creative thinking and critical thinking. Case-based learning is a name for a host of pedagogical approaches which are student-centered, requiring the instructor to act as an expert guide rather than as a source of knowledge. These approaches make use of cases, thus contextualizing learning of discipline or practice-specific knowledge. This approach can help facilitate students’ development of conceptual understanding and thinking skills, as students work through and reflect on the process of solving cases. Despite the learning benefits of case-based learning, it has not often been implemented in undergraduate engineering education when compared with project- or problem-based learning. This paper outlines our proposal for a case-based learning pedagogical framework which aims to foster undergraduate engineering students’ creative and critical thinking. The framework provides scaffolding of the learning process for students using a sequence of case-based learning implementations with varying levels of student autonomy. We begin by providing a theoretical background on problem-solving in engineering, creative thinking, and critical thinking, followed by a review of case-based learning in undergraduate engineering education. Next, we outline our proposed pedagogical framework, including guidelines for instructional design and implementation, as well as practical examples. We then discuss the contributions and limitations of our work. Finally, we discuss potential challenges associated with the implementation of our framework and potential mitigations. This work offers theoretical and practical contributions for developing undergraduate engineering students’ creative and critical thinking.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others

Data Availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.

Notes

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_fighter_maneuvers

References

  • ABET. (2019). General criterion 3. Student outcomes from criteria for accrediting engineering programs, 2018–2019. Retrieved December 1, 2022, from https://www.abet.org/accreditation/accreditation-criteria/criteria-for-accrediting-engineering-programs-2019-2020/#GC3

  • Ahern, A., Dominguez, C., McNally, C., O’Sullivan, J. J., & Pedrosa, D. (2019). A literature review of critical thinking in engineering education. Studies in Higher Education, 44(5), 816–828.

    Google Scholar 

  • Allchin, D. (2013). Problem-and case-based learning in science: An introduction to distinctions, values, and outcomes. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 364–372.

    Google Scholar 

  • Amabile, T. M. (1983). The social psychology of creativity: A componential conceptualization. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45(2), 357.

    Google Scholar 

  • Antonietti, A., Colombo, B., & Pizzingrilli, P. (2011). The WCR model of creativity. From concept to application. The Open Education Journal, 4(1).

  • Atwood, S. A., & Pretz, J. E. (2016). Creativity as a factor in persistence and academic achievement of engineering undergraduates. Journal of Engineering Education, 105(4), 540–559.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baligar, P., & Joshi, G. (2017). Engineering ethics: Decision making using fundamental canons. Journal of Engineering Education Transformations, 30(Special Issue).

  • Barron, F. (1955). The disposition toward originality. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 51(3), 478–485.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beever, J., & Brightman, A. O. (2016). Reflexive principlism as an effective approach for developing ethical reasoning in engineering. Science and Engineering Ethics, 22(1), 275–291.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berg, J. M. (2014). The primal mark: How the beginning shapes the end in the development of creative ideas. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 125(1), 1–17.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bombaerts, G., Doulougeri, K., Tsui, S., Laes, E., Spahn, A., & Martin, D. A. (2021). Engineering students as cocreators in an ethics of technology course. Science and Engineering Ethics, 27(4), 1–26.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonnardel, N., & Marmèche, E. (2004). Evocation processes by novice and expert designers: Towards stimulating analogical thinking. Creativity and Innovation Management, 13(3), 176–186.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brainerd, C. J., & Reyna, V. F. (1990). Gist is the grist: Fuzzy-trace theory and the new intuitionism. Developmental Review, 10(1), 3–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chen, J., Kolmos, A., & Du, X. (2021). Forms of implementation and challenges of PBL in engineering education: A review of literature. European Journal of Engineering Education, 46(1), 90–115.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chilton, L. B., Petridis, S., & Agrawala, M. (2019, May). VisiBlends: A flexible workflow for visual blends. In Proceedings of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1–14).

  • Cifuentes, L., Mercer, R., Alverez, O., & Bettati, R. (2010). An architecture for case-based learning. TechTrends, 54(6), 44–50.

    Google Scholar 

  • Corbin, J. C., Reyna, V. F., Weldon, R. B., & Brainerd, C. J. (2015). How reasoning, judgment, and decision making are colored by gist-based intuition: A fuzzy-trace theory approach. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 4(4), 344–355.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cropley, D. H. (2015). Promoting creativity and innovation in engineering education. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(2), 161.

    Google Scholar 

  • Çubukcu, E., & Dündar, ŞG. (2007). Can creativity be taught? An empirical study on benefits of visual analogy in basic design education. A|z ITU Journal of the Faculty of Architecture, 4(2), 67–80.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dahl, D. W., & Moreau, P. (2002). The influence and value of analogical thinking during new product ideation. Journal of Marketing Research, 39(1), 47–60.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dym, C. L., Agogino, A. M., Eris, O., Frey, D. D., & Leifer, L. J. (2005). Engineering design thinking, teaching, and learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 49(1), 103–120.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ericsson, K. A., & Simon, H. A. (1998). How to study thinking in everyday life: Contrasting think-aloud protocols with descriptions and explanations of thinking. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 5(3), 178–186.

    Google Scholar 

  • ER, A. P. D. M. (2014). Curriculum innovation in engineering education: A model for future pilots.

  • Facione, P. A. (1990a). The California Critical Thinking Skills Test--College level. Technical Report# 1. Experimental validation and content validity.

  • Facione, P. A. (1990b). Critical thinking: A statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction (the Delphi Report).

  • Flynn, C. D., Squier, M., & Davidson, C. I. (2016). Development of a case-based teaching module to improve student understanding of stakeholder engagement processes within engineering systems design. In New developments in engineering education for sustainable development (pp. 57–67). Springer, Cham.

  • Friedman, G., & Sage, A. P. (2004). Case studies of systems engineering and management in systems acquisition. Systems Engineering, 7(1), 84–97.

    Google Scholar 

  • Genco, N., Hölttä-Otto, K., & Seepersad, C. C. (2012). An experimental investigation of the innovation capabilities of undergraduate engineering students. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 60–81.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gick, M. L., & Holyoak, K. J. (1983). Schema induction and analogical transfer. Cognitive Psychology, 15(1), 1–38.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goel, A. K. (1997). Design, analogy, and creativity. IEEE Expert, 12(3), 62–70.

    Google Scholar 

  • Herreid, C. F. (1997). What makes a good case. Journal of College Science Teaching, 27(3).

  • Holyoak, K., Gentner, D., & Kokinov, B. (2001). The place of analogy in cognition. The Analogical Mind: Perspectives from Cognitive Science, 119.

  • Holyoak, K. J., & Thagard, P. (1995). Mental leaps: Analogy in creative thought. MIT Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ingeman-Nielsen, T., & Christensen, H. P. (2011, June). Interdisciplinary case-based teaching of engineering geosciences and geotechnics. In Proceedings of the 7th International CDIO Conference, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, June 20 (Vol. 23, p. 2011).

  • Jamieson, L. H., & Lohmann, J. R. (2012). Innovation with impact: Creating a culture for scholarly and systematic innovation in engineering education (p. 77). American Society for Engineering Education.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jamieson, M. V., Lefsrud, L. M., Sattari, F., & Donald, J. R. (2021). Sustainable leadership and management of complex engineering systems: A team based structured case study approach. Education for Chemical Engineers, 35, 37–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jang, H. (2016). Identifying 21st century STEM competencies using workplace data. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 25(2), 284–301.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jing, S., & Qi, Q. (2015, November). Study on network engineering course cases based on campus network platform. In 2015 7th International Conference on Information Technology in Medicine and Education (ITME) (pp. 601–604). IEEE.

  • Jonassen, D. H. (2000). Toward a design theory of problem solving. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(4), 63–85.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kazerounian, K., & Foley, S. (2007). Barriers to creativity in engineering education: A study of instructors and students perceptions.

  • Kim, K. H. (2011). The creativity crisis: The decrease in creative thinking scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Creativity Research Journal, 23(4), 285–295.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kisselburgh, L. G., Hess, J. L., Zoltowski, C. B., Beever, J., & Brightman, A. O. (2016, June). Assessing a scaffolded, interactive, and reflective analysis framework for developing ethical reasoning in engineering students. In 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.

  • Klein, G. A. (1993). A recognition-primed decision (RPD) model of rapid decision making. Decision Making in Action: Models and Methods, 5(4), 138–147.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kolodner, J. (2014). Case-based reasoning. Morgan Kaufmann.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kulak, V., & Newton, G. (2014). A guide to using case-based learning in biochemistry education. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education, 42(6), 457–473.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lavi, R., Marti, D., & Crawley, E. (2023). Creating analogies for design problem-solving: Initial evaluation of an engineering faculty workshop. Accepted for presentation at The VII IEEE World Engineering Education Conference (EDUNINE2023), Bogotá, Colombia, March 12-15, 2023 (hybrid conference).

  • Lavi, R., Tal, M., & Dori, Y. J. (2021). Perceptions of STEM alumni and students on developing 21st century skills through methods of teaching and learning. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 70, 101002.

  • Linsey, J. S., Wood, K. L., & Markman, A. B. (2008). Modality and representation in analogy. Ai Edam, 22(2), 85–100.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marti, D., & Broniatowski, D. A. (2020). Does gist drive NASA experts’ design decisions? Systems Engineering, 23(4), 460–479.

    Google Scholar 

  • Marti, D., Hamdy, R. F., & Broniatowski, D. A. (2022). Gist representations and decision-making processes affecting antibiotic prescribing for children with acute otitis media. MDM Policy & Practice, 7(2), 23814683221115416.

    Google Scholar 

  • Martin, D. A., Conlon, E., & Bowe, B. (2019). The role of role-play in student awareness of the social dimension of the engineering profession. European Journal of Engineering Education, 44(6), 882–905.

    Google Scholar 

  • Martin, D. A., Conlon, E., & Bowe, B. (2021). Using case studies in engineering ethics education: the case for immersive scenarios through stakeholder engagement and real life data. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 26(1), 47–63.

    Google Scholar 

  • McWhirter, N., & Shealy, T. (2017, June). Bridging engineering and psychology: Using an envision gold certified project to teach decision making for sustainability. In 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition.

  • McWhirter, N., & Shealy, T. (2020). Case-based flipped classroom approach to teach sustainable infrastructure and decision-making. International Journal of Construction Education and Research, 16(1), 3–23.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mills, J. E., & Treagust, D. F. (2003). Engineering education—Is problem-based or project-based learning the answer. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 3(2), 2–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Morrison, L. A. (2020). Situating moral agency: How postphenomenology can benefit engineering ethics. Science and Engineering Ethics, 26(3), 1377–1401.

    Google Scholar 

  • National Research Council. (2013). Education for life and work: Developing transferable knowledge and skills in the 21st century. National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nedelkoska, L., & Quintini, G. (2018). Automation, skills use and training.

  • Nielsen, T. E., & Christiansen, B. L. (2015). Teaching and learning ethics in BEng programmes.

  • Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2019). The miniature guide to critical thinking concepts and tools. Rowman & Littlefield.

    Google Scholar 

  • Pease, M. A., & Kuhn, D. (2011). Experimental analysis of the effective components of problem-based learning. Science Education, 95(1), 57–86.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rabins, M., Harris, C., & Pritchard, M. (2009). The Kansas City Hyatt Regency Walkways Collapse. Engineering Ethics. Retrieved March 17, 2022, from http://ethics.tamu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2017/04/HyattRegency.pdf

  • Ranky, P. G. (2010, May). Problem-based teaching/learning methods and cases for millennial generation engineering students interested in sustainable green engineering. In Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology (pp. 1–6). IEEE.

  • Reyna, V. (2018). When irrational biases are smart: A fuzzy-trace theory of complex decision making. Journal of Intelligence, 6(2), 29.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reyna, V. F. (2012). A new intuitionism: Meaning, memory, and development in fuzzy-trace theory. Judgment and Decision making.

  • Reyna, V. F., & Brainerd, C. J. (1991). Fuzzy-trace theory and framing effects in choice: Gist extraction, truncation, and conversion. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 4(4), 249–262.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reyna, V. F., & Farley, F. (2006). Risk and rationality in adolescent decision making: Implications for theory, practice, and public policy. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 7(1), 1–44.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reyna, V. F., & Lloyd, F. J. (2006). Physician decision making and cardiac risk: Effects of knowledge, risk perception, risk tolerance, and fuzzy processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 12(3), 179.

    Google Scholar 

  • Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The standard definition of creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 24(1), 92–96.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schelhorn, S. E., Griego, J., & Schmid, U. (2007). Transformational and derivational strategies in analogical problem solving. Cognitive Processing, 8, 45–55.

    Google Scholar 

  • Scott, C. L. (2015). The futures of learning 2: What kind of learning for the 21st century? UNESCO Education Research and Foresight. Paris, France. [ERF Working Papers Series, No. 14].

  • Shen, Z., & Zhu, Y. (2011). Complex engineering system learning through study of engineering failure cases using 3D animations.

  • Sivaraman, M. A. F. (2019). Ethical decision-making ability and cognitive reasoning among final year engineering students in a higher education institution in Malaysia: A qualitative study. Asean Journal of Engineering Education, 3(1).

  • Sola, E., Hoekstra, R., Fiore, S., & McCauley, P. (2017). An investigation of the state of creativity and critical thinking in engineering undergraduates. Creative Education, 8(09), 1495.

    Google Scholar 

  • Srinivasan, M., Wilkes, M., Stevenson, F., Nguyen, T., & Slavin, S. (2007). Comparing problem-based learning with case-based learning: Effects of a major curricular shift at two institutions. Academic Medicine, 82(1), 74–82.

    Google Scholar 

  • Urban, K. K. (2005). Assessing creativity: The test for creative thinking-drawing production (TCT-DP). International Education Journal, 6(2), 272–280.

    Google Scholar 

  • Valentine, A., Belski, I., Hamilton, M., & Adams, S. (2019). Creativity in electrical engineering degree programs: Where is the content? IEEE Transactions on Education, 62(4), 288–296.

    Google Scholar 

  • Watson, G. (1980). Watson-Glaser critical thinking appraisal. Psychological Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Winiecki, D., Catlin, L., & Ackler, H. (2020). Developing and applying knowledge and skills in ethics and professional morality: An evidence-based practice paper.

  • Wolfe, C. R., Reyna, V. F., & Brainerd, C. (2005). Fuzzy-trace theory. Transfer of learning from a modern multidisciplinary perspective, 53.

  • World Economic Forum. (2016). The future of jobs: Employment, skills and workforce strategy for the fourth industrial revolution. Global Challenge Insight Report.

  • Yadav, A., Alexander, V., & Mehta, S. (2019). Case-based instruction in undergraduate engineering: Does student confidence predict learning. International Journal of Engineering Education, 35(1), 25–34.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yadav, A., Shaver, G. M., & Meckl, P. (2010). Lessons learned: Implementing the case teaching method in a mechanical engineering course. Journal of Engineering Education, 99(1), 55–69.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yadav, A., Vinh, M., Shaver, G. M., Meckl, P., & Firebaugh, S. (2014). Case-based instruction: Improving students’ conceptual understanding through cases in a mechanical engineering course. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 51(5), 659–677.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yau, J. J., Cheah, S. M., & Phua, S. T. (2013). Contextualize teaching of ethics in chemical engineering curriculum. In Proceeding of the 9th International CDIO Conference.

  • Zhu, Y., & Ibrahim, M. (2017). Application of structure–behavior–function (SBF) theory to construction education. International Journal of Construction Management, 17(4), 264–279.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Rea Lavi.

Ethics declarations

Ethical Approval

Not applicable.

Consent to Participate

Not applicable.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Springer Nature or its licensor (e.g. a society or other partner) holds exclusive rights to this article under a publishing agreement with the author(s) or other rightsholder(s); author self-archiving of the accepted manuscript version of this article is solely governed by the terms of such publishing agreement and applicable law.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Lavi, R., Marti, D. A Proposed Case-Based Learning Framework for Fostering Undergraduate Engineering Students’ Creative and Critical Thinking. J Sci Educ Technol 32, 898–911 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-022-10017-w

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10956-022-10017-w

Keywords

Navigation