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Board 88 : Learner Types: A Means to Expand the Definition of Diversity and to Redesign Ethics Modules

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Rider W. Foley University of Virginia

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Dr. Rider W. Foley is an assistant professor in the science, technology & society program in the Department of Engineering and Society at the University of Virginia. He is the principal investigator at University of Virginia on the ‘4C Project’ on Cultivating Cultures of Ethical STEM education with colleagues from Notre Dame, Xavier University and St. Mary’s College. He is also the co-leader of the ‘Nano and the City’ thematic research cluster for the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University. Rider is a Research Collaborator with the Sustainability Science Education program at the Biodesign Institute. His research focuses on wicked problems that arise at the intersection of society and technology. Rider holds a Ph.D. in Sustainability from Arizona State University, and a Master's degree in Environmental Management from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from University of New Hampshire. Before earning his doctorate, he has worked for a decade in consulting and emergency response for Triumvirate Environmental Inc.

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Araba Dennis University of Virginia


Kathleen Eggleson Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend

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Dr. Eggleson earned her PhD in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis from Washington University in Louis. Her expertise in biomedical science, ethics, and education converge through her research within the field of STEM ethics education, which includes the NSF-Sponsored 4C Project.

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Anderson Sunda-Meya Xavier University of Louisiana

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Kathryn Haas Saint Mary's College, Indiana

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Diversity in the science, technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) is often based upon gender, race and ethnicity. Those demographic categories support a quantitative, “numbers game”, to fostering a diverse learning community. Literature shows that individuals who are attracted, selected, and retained in engineering, for example, express personality characteristics of introversion, intuition, thinking, and judging (INTJ) as defined by Myers-Briggs. Taken together it is logical to assume that while demographic diversity is a goal, the current model of attraction, selection and retention rewards individuals that conform to an INTJ personality. Thus, in one respect, while schools attempt to ‘diversify’ their learning communities, there is an assumption that the learners are a homogenous population, and thus can be served equally by traditional approaches to ethics education. This is problematic since students that are more extroverted or caring might not be supported by lectures that review ethics cases. However, there are few resources available that account for how students from different backgrounds and with different belief-structures and personality types might be taught STEM ethics. In light of this, our research pursues the questions: How can learner types for STEM students be redefined and how does that force instructors to redesign their pedagogical approaches for engaging diverse students? This research seeks to better understand the heterogeneity of STEM students and explore ways to redesign ethics modules in ways that allow students to thrive in the learning environment. This research draws upon surveys and student-writing samples from 272 students across four institutions, specifically Notre Dame, Xavier, St. Mary’s and University of Virginia. Our initial research demonstrates that there are is greater diversity of learner types in STEM classrooms, which extend far beyond those that exhibit INTJ characteristics. The initial results indicate that STEM students can be described more holistically when religion, duty-based guidelines (i.e. honor codes), care ethics, and other personality characteristics are recognized. This research implies that instructors need to critically rethink pedagogies for STEM ethics.

Foley, R. W., & Dennis, A., & Eggleson, K., & Sunda-Meya, A., & Haas, K. (2018, June), Board 88 : Learner Types: A Means to Expand the Definition of Diversity and to Redesign Ethics Modules Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30127

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