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Mathematical logic is one of the scientific foundations of information technology and computer engineering. Therefore, engineering students must be proficient in logical operations. First-year engineering students answered four logical reasoning tasks as part of a larger survey on scientific thinking, producing more incorrect responses than previous studies would have predicted, most notably in international student groups. This paper presents and analyzes these results, and compares and discusses the differences between natural human reasoning and engineering logic. It seeks to explain failures in logical reasoning that occur despite formal training and considers several possible cultural and psychological explanations to this phenomenon. The conclusion highlights the need for stronger emphasis in developing problem-solving and metacognitive skills in engineering education. The importance of fluency in the language of study emerges as a significant factor in learning technical subjects.
Date of Publication: Nov. 2007