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Early Career Engineers' Views of Ethics and Social Responsibility: Study Overview

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36998

Download Count

76

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Paper Authors

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Stephanie Claussen San Francisco State University

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Stephanie Claussen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering at San Francisco State University. She previously spent eight years as a Teaching Professor in the Engineering, Design, and Society Division and the Electrical Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Her current engineering education research interests include engineering students' understanding of ethics and social responsibility, sociotechnical education, and assessment of engineering pedagogies.

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Brent K. Jesiek Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE)

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Dr. Brent K. Jesiek is an Associate Professor in the Schools of Engineering Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He also leads the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC) research group, and is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award to study boundary-spanning roles and competencies among early career engineers. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech. Dr. Jesiek draws on expertise from engineering, computing, and the social sciences to advance understanding of geographic, disciplinary, and historical variations in engineering education and practice.

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE)

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Carla B. Zoltowski is an assistant professor of engineering practice in the Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Education, and Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program within the College of Engineering at Purdue. Prior to her appointment in ECE, Dr. Zoltowski was Co-Director of the EPICS Program. She holds a B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue. Her research interests include the professional formation of engineers, diversity, inclusion, and equity in engineering, human-centered design, engineering ethics, and leadership.

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Shiloh James Howland Brigham Young University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-9165-3562

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Shiloh James Howland is a doctoral candidate at Brigham Young University in Educational Inquiry, Measurement, and Evaluation. She received a master's degree in instructional psychology and technology as well as a bachelor's degree and master's degree in geology. Her current research interests are in educational assessment and measurement.

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Abstract

Amidst growing concerns about a lack of attention to ethics in engineering education and professional practice, a variety of formal course-based interventions and informal or extracurricular programs have been created to improve the social and ethical commitments of engineering graduates. To supplement the formal and informal ethics education received as undergraduate students, engineering professionals often also participate in workplace training and professional development activities on ethics, compliance, and related topics. Despite this preparation, there is growing evidence to suggest that technical professionals are often challenged to navigate ethical situations and dilemmas.

Some prior research has focused on assessing the impacts of a variety of learning experiences on students’ understandings of ethics and social responsibility, including the PIs’ prior NSF-funded CCE STEM study which followed engineering students through the four years of their undergraduate studies using both quantitative and qualitative research methods. This prior project explored how the students’ views on these topics changed across demographic groups, over time, between institutions, and due to specific interventions. Yet, there has been little longitudinal research on how these views and perceptions change (or do not change) among engineers during the school-to-work transition. Furthermore, there has been little exploration of how these views are influenced by the professional contexts in which these engineers work, including cultures and norms prevalent in different technical fields, organizations, and industry sectors.

This NSF-supported Ethical and Responsible Research (ER2) study responds to these gaps in the literature by asking: RQ1) How do perceptions of ethics and social responsibility change in the transition from undergraduate engineering degree programs to the workplace (or graduate studies), and how are these perceptions shaped or influenced?, and RQ2) How do perceptions of ethics and social responsibility vary depending on a given individual’s engineering discipline/background and current professional setting?

This paper gives an overview of the research project, describing in particular the longitudinal, mixed-methods study design which will involve collecting and analyzing data from a large sample of early career engineers. More specifically, we will present the proposed study contexts, timeline, target subject populations, and procedures for quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. We will also describe how this study leverages our prior project, thereby allowing unique longitudinal comparisons that span participants’ years as an engineering undergraduate student to their time as an early-career professional. Through this project, we aim to better understand how early career engineers’ perceptions of social and ethical responsibility are shaped by their prior experiences and current professional contexts. This paper will likely be of particular interest to scholars who teach or research engineering ethics, social responsibility, and professional practice.

Claussen, S., & Jesiek, B. K., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Howland, S. J. (2021, July), Early Career Engineers' Views of Ethics and Social Responsibility: Study Overview Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/36998

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