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Connecting with First-year Engineering Students’ Interest in Social Responsibility Issues through Ethics Lessons

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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 Education Graduate Research Consortium (EEGRC) Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Kathryn Waugaman University of Colorado Boulder

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Katie is an undergraduate student researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is interested in why students choose to study engineering and what retention methods are successful for universities, particularly in underrepresented communities. She is a Senior in Mechanical Engineering and plans to work in renewable energy when she graduates in December.

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Janet Y. Tsai University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16

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Janet Y. Tsai is a researcher and instructor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on ways to encourage more students, especially women and those from nontraditional demographic groups, to pursue interests in the field of engineering. Janet assists in recruitment and retention efforts locally, nationally, and internationally, hoping to broaden the image of engineering, science, and technology to include new forms of communication and problem solving for emerging grand challenges. A second vein of Janet's research seeks to identify the social and cultural impacts of technological choices made by engineers in the process of designing and creating new devices and systems. Her work considers the intentional and unintentional consequences of durable structures, products, architectures, and standards in engineering education, to pinpoint areas for transformative change.

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Malinda S. Zarske University of Colorado, Boulder

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Malinda Zarske is a faculty member with the Engineering Plus program at the University of Colorado Boulder. She teaches undergraduate product design and core courses through Engineering Plus as well as STEM education courses for pre-service teachers through the CU Teach Engineering program. Her primary research interests include the impacts of project-based service-learning on student identity - especially women and nontraditional demographic groups in engineering - as well as pathways and retention to and through K-12 and undergraduate engineering, teacher education, and curriculum development. She is passionate about hands-on engineering design for every student, at every age level.

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The goal of this study is to identify and analyze engagement strategies. Ethics lessons from five instructors in first-year engineering projects courses will be observed and analyzed. The research questions are what are successful engagement strategies instructors and what ethical teaching outcomes does each produce?, how can these strategies begin to achieve Triggered-Feeling in their students? and how do these Engineering Ethics lessons affect students’ perspectives of an engineer’s role in ethical decision-making? These questions investigate the connections students can begin to form between their personal sense of social responsibility and engineering curriculums. By answering these questions, we seek a deeper understanding of how students can form meaningful connections with engineering and become more inclined to stay in the program. Data will be presented in the form of pre- and post-surveys from the students regarding the course and engineering overall and the students’ impressions of the Ethics lectures.

Waugaman, K., & Tsai, J. Y., & Zarske, M. S. (2018, June), Connecting with First-year Engineering Students’ Interest in Social Responsibility Issues through Ethics Lessons Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30220

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