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Developing Curriculum On Research Ethics For Engineers: Gathering The Data

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Curricular Innovations

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.493.1 - 12.493.14



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Paper Authors


Hillary Hart University of Texas-Austin

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Hillary Hart teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in Technical Communication at The University of Texas at Austin. An Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she is the Academic Liaison officer for STC. She is a co-director of the PRiME project at the UT College of Engineering

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Christy Moore University of Texas-Austin

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Developing Curriculum on Research Ethics for Graduate Engineers: Gathering the Data Introduction For the past several years, faculty at the University of Texas at Austin have been developing web-based educational modules designed to help Engineering faculty integrate the teaching of ethics into their existing courses. These undergraduate educational modules, known collectively as PRiME (Professional Responsibility Modules in Engineering), cover topics such as Professional Ethics, Ethical Leadership, and Credibility of Sources and are already being used by faculty at UT and elsewhere: Inspired by the success of these undergraduate modules, several faculty have outlined a plan to expand the educational offerings by creating, with the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), web-based educational materials that prepare graduate students for the ethical issues they will encounter as academic and professional researchers. This paper describes the first stage of this project: 1. assessing the need for graduate education in research ethics 2. determining the appropriate issues to address and pedagogical techniques to employ in teaching graduate rather than undergraduate students.

Gathering the data to proceed with this project entailed reviewing the literature on teaching graduate engineering research ethics (especially our four focus topics), working with our multi- disciplinary team to identify appropriate issues and pedagogical techniques for graduate students, and reviewing the assessment we performed on the undergraduate modules.

Literature Review – Engineering Research Ethics The research on engineering ethics education has focused, largely, on the undergraduate curriculum.1,2,3,4 For instance, in 1989, faculty and practitioners participated in an NSF- sponsored workshop at The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) in 1989 to examine how topics of professional responsibility can best be introduced into the undergraduate engineering curriculum.4 The workshop identified and examined limitations on integrating these topics into the classroom, including lack of faculty exposure to the topics, lack of faculty time to introduce the topic into the classroom, lack of space in the curriculum, and lack of support material. In the last 16 years, driven by accreditation requirements5 and other factors, faculty have better defined the need, developed materials, and introduced these topics to undergraduate engineering students across the United States. Much less material, however, is available to assist in developing an engineering graduate student’s understanding of “academic” ethics involved in teaching and research.

Researchers, such as Steneck,6 stress the importance of including topics of engineering ethics in courses across the curriculum, but few researchers have outlined specific suggestions for including ethics at the graduate level (there are exceptions – see Vollmer and Hall’s work7). Yet, graduate students, who stand at the doorway to future careers as high-level engineers and researchers, have a real need for exposure to these subjects. Studies suggest that ethical development continues before and during graduate school.8 Graduate students themselves are sometimes the recipients of harsh, if not ethically questionable treatment by their research

Hart, H., & Moore, C. (2007, June), Developing Curriculum On Research Ethics For Engineers: Gathering The Data Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2736

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