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Does a STEM Researcher’s Role Orientation Predict His or Her Ethical Sensitivity to Responsible Conduct of Research?

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Issues Part One

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

22.510.1 - 22.510.10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/17791

Download Count

30

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Paper Authors

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Michael Bowler Michigan Technological University

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Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Michigan Technological University

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Susan Amato-Henderson Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Susan Amato-Henderson is an Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences at Michigan Technological University. Her expertise is in methodology and statistical analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental research. Most of her work involves examination of the social and cognitive indicators predictive of educational success, along with the measurement of educational outcomes. She is currently serving as Co-PI for several funded projects examining the impact of various engineering education models on student persistence, intentions, attitudes, etc.

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Thomas David Drummer Michigan Technological University

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Joanna M. Schreiber Michigan Technological University

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Ph.D. Candidate in Rhetoric and Technical Communication at Michigan Technological University.

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Joseph H. Holles University of Wyoming

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Associate Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Wyoming

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Ted W. Lockhart Michigan Technological University

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Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Michigan Technological University, 2010 - present.

Member of philosophy faculty at Michigan Technological University, 1978 - 2010.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science, Michigan Technological University,
1977 - 1978.

Instructor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Michigan Technological University, 1976 - 1977.

Engineer in aerospace industry, 1968 - 1970.

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Jingfang Ren Michigan Technological University

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Jingfang Ren is currently an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Technical Communication in the Department of Humanities at Michigan Tech. Her research interests include technical communication theory and practice, rhetorical theory, visual rhetoric, research design, and intercultural and international communication.

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Abstract

Does a STEM Researcher’s Role Orientation Predict His or Her Ethical Sensitivity to Responsible Conduct of Research?AbstractA role orientation inventory provides a record of the way in which an individual orients himselfor herself with respect to a particular role that he or she plays within society. Role orientationinventories were originally developed to measure an individual’s professional role orientation,for instance, with regard to being a dentist, doctor, social worker, etc. A role orientationinventory can answer questions such as: Does a doctor see her role as primarily that of providingher patient with a service in exchange for payment? Does a dentist understand his role asfundamentally consisting of serving the best interests of his patients? Does a social worker seeher role as an authority figure?A test of ethical sensitivity measures an individual’s ability to recognize and take account of theethically relevant elements of ethically-charged situations, e.g., the rights and obligations ofthose involved, applicable principles and ethical guidelines, and the consequences of particularcourses of action, etc. Also originally developed for the field of professional ethics, ethicalsensitivity tests provide information about an individual’s ability to map out and size up asituation involving ethics prior to making an ethical judgment. In fact, one’s sensitivity to anethical situation provides the material basis upon which one makes ethical judgments andchooses courses of action.As part of an NSF sponsored project, we have developed and validated a role orientationinventory for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) researchers and a testof an individual’s ethical sensitivity to situations involving the responsible conduct of research(RCR). Our role orientation inventory instrument is an adaptation and extension of previousinstruments that were originally designed with professionals in mind. We have created aninstrument appropriate to the role of a STEM researcher. Our ethical sensitivity instrumentembodies an innovative approach toward measuring ethical sensitivity that relies uponcomparing an individual’s ethical sensitivity to situations involving RCR with his or her ethicalsensitivity to common, everyday ethical situations.In order to prepare for the final study that will be the culmination of our NSF grant project and tofurther validate the instruments that we have designed, we have conducted a study designed toexamine the relationships between a STEM researcher’s role orientation and his or her ethicalsensitivity to RCR. As ethical sensitivity is considered to be the bedrock of ethical behavior,understanding the relationships between a STEM researcher’s role orientation and ethicalsensitivity to RCR is an important step in understanding the psychology behind STEMresearchers’ behavior with respect to RCR. But it also illuminates aspects of ethical behaviorthat ethics educators should take into account and suggests possibilities of new approaches thatethics educators can take toward forming responsible researchers. For instance, if there is acorrelation between a STEM researcher’s role orientation and his or her ethical sensitivity toRCR, then it is important that ethics educators explore the possibility of developing pedagogicalmethods for influencing researcher’s role orientation in order to enhance their ethical sensitivityto RCR.

Bowler, M., & Amato-Henderson, S., & Drummer, T. D., & Schreiber, J. M., & Holles, J. H., & Lockhart, T. W., & Ren, J. (2011, June), Does a STEM Researcher’s Role Orientation Predict His or Her Ethical Sensitivity to Responsible Conduct of Research? Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/17791

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