June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Traditional approaches for infusing ethics into engineering curricula emphasize a Rationalist model. In this approach, student learning is focused on understanding and recognizing ethical issues and developing better reasoning skills. To guide ethical decision making, students practice determining facts, clarifying concepts, identifying relevant ethical principles, and weighing evidence. While developing better reasoning skills is critical, research suggests that a person’s judgement is also affected by a host of social and psychological factors occurring throughout the decision making process. This paper explores how the ethical decision making of engineers can be improved through a better understanding of these social and psychological factors (so-called “Behavioral Ethics”). To this end, Behavioral Ethics was introduced into an engineering design course to examine ethical questions centered around issues of risk and public safety. To guide the identification of learning outcomes, a Behavioral Ethics rubric was developed which outlined key attributes for recognizing how behavioral factors may influence awareness of ethical issues, judgement, as well as the ability to undertake an ethical course of action. A Behavioral Ethics module was developed which included lecture materials and case studies. A class activity was developed based on the classic Ford Pinto case study in which students read narratives of engineers involved and identified how specific cognitive, situational, or institutional factors may have influenced their decision making.
Walker, H. W. (2019, June), Behavioral Ethics and Engineers: Factors Affecting Decision Making in Cases Involving Risk and Public Safety Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32143
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