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A Cohort Study on the Effectiveness of Ethics Education in Engineering & Engineering Technology Programs

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Ethics Instruction in Context: Civil and Construction Engineering and Engineering Technology

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jason K. Durfee Eastern Washington University

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Jason Durfee is a Professor of Engineering & Design at Eastern Washington University. He received his BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Brigham Young University. He holds a Professional Engineer certification. Prior to teaching at Eastern Washington University, he was a military pilot, an engineering instructor at West Point and an airline pilot. His interests include aerospace, aviation, computational fluid dynamics, professional ethics, and piano technology.

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Hani Serhal Saad Eastern Washington University

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B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Marquette University
PhD. in Mechanical Engineering, Washington State University

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A few years ago our university underwent a major overhaul of the manner in which professional ethics was taught in our engineering and engineering technology programs. One change was to ensure that ethics topics were included in all core courses. Another change involved the addition of an ethics module to a history of technology course taken by all students in our programs. The ethics coverage in our senior capstone course was also improved and this included the use of an ethics examination available on the website of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). The NSPE exam was used as an assessment tool as well as a source for further discussion on professional ethics. Soon after these changes were implemented a cohort study was begun in order to assess the effectiveness of these changes. Knowledge of professional ethics was assessed in a freshman course taken by engineering and engineering technology students. Later, when these students were in their senior capstone course they were assessed again and the results were compared. This paper describes the process used in the cohort study as well as the results derived from that study. Data from the study seems to indicate very little change in an individual student’s understanding and ability to apply professional ethics over the course of their college experience.

Durfee, J. K., & Saad, H. S. (2016, June), A Cohort Study on the Effectiveness of Ethics Education in Engineering & Engineering Technology Programs Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26277

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