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Addressing the Cognitive and Affective Domain of Ethics Across the Civil and Environmental Engineering Curriculum

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Thinking Outside the BOKs: ABET, Ethics, Civil Engineering as Liberal Education, and 3-Year Degrees

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors

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Jennifer Mueller PE P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Matthew D. Lovell P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Matthew Lovell is an Associate Professor in the Civil Engineering Department at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and he currently serves as the Interim Senior Director of Institutional Research, Planning, and Assessment office. He is also serving as the director of the Making Academic Change Happen (MACH) program. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University, and he holds his PE license in Indiana. Matt is very active with respect to experimentation in the classroom. He greatly enjoys problem-based learning and challenge-based instruction. Matt is the 2018 recipient of the American Concrete Institute’s Walter P. Moore, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award. He was awarded Teacher of the Year for the Illinois Indiana section of ASEE in 2017. Also, he was awarded the Daniel V. Terrell Outstanding Paper Award from ASCE. Matt is highly active in ASEE, currently serving as the ASEE CE Division’s Freshman Director. In 2014, Matt received the ASEE CE Division Gerald R. Seeley Award for a paper highlighting a portion of his work regarding the development of a Master’s Degree at Rose-Hulman.

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Michael Anthony Robinson P.E. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Michael Robinson is an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

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As opposed to a single course or module on engineering ethics in professional practice, our approach to develop stronger learning outcomes is to weave threads of learning for each outcome through the civil and environmental engineering curriculum. With this approach, learning occurs not within a single course but across several courses spanning the four-year curriculum. Our threads of learning approach allows faculty to teach ethical decision making in courses not traditionally associated with ethics and provides students a more continuous exposure to ethical decision making. Students are introduced to the Civil Engineering Ethics Thread (CEET) at the very start of their academic career during fall quarter of freshman year. Students are given a brief introduction to the concept of the ethical thread of learning. At that time, they also complete a personality assessment, as well as a survey to rate their perception of what is ethical when given a variety of scenarios, to identify their own set of personal values. At the end of the quarter, the survey results are revealed to students for the purpose of recognizing the diversity of personal values among peers. Students delve further into ethical decision making in the context of academic integrity during the first year with reflections on real-life scenarios. During the second year, students discuss the need for a purpose of a common set of ethical standards and review the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Code of Ethics when interpreting ethical dilemmas. Students were introduced to an ethical decision-making process during fall of their junior year. This process is a step-by-step guide that includes reflection throughout the process of assessing and making a judgment on an ethical dilemma. During each quarter of junior and senior year, students were given a real-life ethical dilemma, and they utilized the given decision-making process to analyze their outcome of the dilemma. Cognitive assessment of student learning involved pre- and post-surveys at the beginning and end their four-year academic careers in the civil and environmental engineering curriculum that included perceptions on ethics of a given scenario, as well as personal ability to achieve learning outcomes. Direct assessment will be performed on written submissions of student reflections and analyses of ethical dilemmas through the ethical decision-making process. Assessment of affecting learning was performed through voluntary acknowledgment of personal behaviors and practices along a spectrum of ethical interpretation. Thus far, we have collection baseline survey data prior to the implementation of our approach.

Mueller, J., & Lovell, M. D., & Robinson, M. A. (2019, June), Addressing the Cognitive and Affective Domain of Ethics Across the Civil and Environmental Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32039

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