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E Meas: Introducing An Ethical Component To Model Eliciting Activities

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.502.1 - 14.502.16



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Paper Authors

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Larry Shuman University of Pittsburgh Orcid 16x16

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Mary Besterfield-Sacre University of Pittsburgh

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Renee Clark University of Pittsburgh

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Tuba Pinar Yildirim University of Pittsburgh

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Karen Bursic University of Pittsburgh

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

E-MEAs: Introducing An Ethical Component to Model Eliciting Activities Abstract We are using models and modeling, specifically model eliciting activities (MEAs), to enhance upper-level engineering students’ vertical skills integration and problem solving capacity. The MEAs we are introducing also are challenge students to develop an additional professional engineering skill - an ability to recognize and resolve ethical dilemmas. This MEA extension - ethical MEA (E-MEA) - requires students to resolve ethical dilemmas embedded within a larger, unstructured engineering problem. Engineering scenarios are being designed that elicit differing perspectives on ethical issues, for example confidential information versus public safety or employee loyalty versus whistle blowing. We are extending MEAs in this fashion in order to study the strategies that engineering teams use to resolve complex ethical dilemmas, using process-level assessments of their MEA problem solving activities.

Our approach begins with the key engineering concept or idea (model) that we wish to target (e.g., ANOVA, multiple linear regression, or decision modeling). We then adapt either an existing ethical case or develop our own, identifying a scenario with appropriate data that both targets the particular engineering concept but also introduces the ethical dilemma that must be addressed by the student team as part of the problem solution. The use of context-based case studies provides ideal subject material for the development of these modeling exercises, which are designed to require the synthesis of intangible concepts such as environmental or societal justice. We present several E-MEAs that we have developed and pilot tested, including our results to date in analyzing both the problem solving process the student team used and an assessment of the outcome. We also describe our various data collection methods and our future plans.

1. Introduction It has now been more than decade since what was then the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and is now simply ABET added to its previously implicit set of “hard” engineering outcomes a second, equally important set of six outcomes which we, among others have designated “professional” skills1. Included among these latter skills are communications, teamwork, and understanding ethics and professionalism, which we have denoted as process skills, and three others - engineering within a global and societal context, lifelong learning, and a knowledge of contemporary issues - which we have termed awareness skills.

We propose that in what Freidman is now calling a “hot, flat and crowded world2” these professional skills can no longer be neglected by engineering educators in favor of the more traditional “hard skills.” This is especially true as the current economic downturn has further caused industry to view larger and larger portions of the science and engineering labor pool as a commodity rather than a profession. In fact, companies have become transnational, no longer limited by national borders as they seek the best talent from any number of lower cost countries including India, China, Russia and Vietnam3, 4. As a result, U.S. engineering educators must now focus on ensuring that our graduates will continue to bring value to a market place in which their salary may be three to five times greater than their international competitors5, 6.

Shuman, L., & Besterfield-Sacre, M., & Clark, R., & Yildirim, T. P., & Bursic, K. (2009, June), E Meas: Introducing An Ethical Component To Model Eliciting Activities Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5269

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