July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
This paper builds on the ethical aspects of an introductory engineering course — BR200 — an Introduction to Biomedical and Rehabilitation Engineering. Various details of this course have been presented at ASEE Conferences in 2011, 2019 and here in 2021 and elsewhere. The course structure was described in 2011; one ethical innovation (story-writing) in 2019; and here in 2021 the didactic changes needed to adapt to a partial or full online presence as the result of the COVID pandemic. This present paper focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 on the teaching strategy used to introduce and discuss medical engineering ethical issues within the class as it abruptly transitioned from face-to-face instruction to completely remote in Spring 2020 (S20), and as it reappeared as a hybrid course in Fall 2020 (F20) and Spring 2021 (S21).
The focus of this present paper is not on the instructional changes required by COVID (and discussed in our companion paper), but rather on how those in turn changed the approach to the handling of ethical questions and to the assessments of students’ responses to those scenarios. One hypothesis is whether the content or style of the pre-post scenario answers and of the reflections changed between an answer handwritten under time-pressure and one electronically captured with little time constraint. Did the answers or reflections measurably change if more time were to be allowed for consideration? Another hypothesis was that the ethical dilemmas presented increased students’ integration and appreciation of the biomedical engineering field regardless of comment modality.
Biomedical engineering ethics can certainly be taught face-to-face, in a hybrid setting or completely online — but how well? Did ethics instruction suffer depending on modality? Our conclusion seemed clear — It didn’t matter especially if each method employed a blended learning management system like Moodle or other similar platforms. An instructor receives qualitative feedback in the classroom (i.e., a sense of how students are responding). Data from off-line grading of responses can be assessed and quantified. In sum, the major consideration brought about by a switch among in-person, online and hybrid instruction was how to handle the interactive, immersive ethical vignettes that the students were required to respond to, sometimes as an in-class exercise and sometimes as a post-lecture submission. That is a major focus of this paper.
Ethical vignette assignments used in BR200 were authentic assignments, a term used to describe assignments that often focused on messy, complex real-world situations and their accompanying constraints. The concepts of authentic assessment and authentic teaching are also explored in this paper, especially as they relate to ethical scenarios and the student’s grasp of ethical principles. Our results indicate that applying authentic assignments, assessments and teaching strategies to the teaching of ethical principles and practices might prove to be a beneficial adjunct to packaged ethical case studies.
Robinson, C. J., & Driskel, L., & Blauvelt, E., & Perry, L. (2021, July), Class Exercises Involving Ethical Issues Reinforce the Importance and Reach of Biomedical Engineering (and the Impact of the Coronavirus on Teaching Strategy and Measures of Assessment) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36796
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