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Effective Ethics Education: Examining Differing Faculty Perspectives

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30355

Download Count

15

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Paper Authors

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Angela R. Bielefeldt University of Colorado, Boulder

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Angela Bielefeldt is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering (CEAE). She had served as the ABET assessment coordinator for the department since 2008. Professor Bielefeldt is a licensed P.E. Her research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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Madeline Polmear University of Colorado, Boulder

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Madeline Polmear is a PhD student in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Chris Swan Tufts University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5670-8938

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Chris Swan is an associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Tufts University. He has additional appointments in the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and Center for Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts. His current engineering education research interests focus on learning through service-based projects and using an entrepreneurial mindset to further engineering education innovations. He also researches the development of reuse strategies for waste materials.

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Daniel Knight University of Colorado, Boulder

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Daniel W. Knight is the Program Assessment and Research Associate at Design Center (DC) Colorado in CU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. He holds a B.A. in psychology from Louisiana State University, an M.S. degree in industrial/organizational psychology and a Ph.D. degree in education, both from the University of Tennessee. Dr. Knight’s research interests are in the areas of retention, program evaluation and teamwork practices in engineering education. His current duties include assessment, team development and education research for DC Colorado's hands-on initiatives.

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Nathan E. Canney

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Dr. Canney conducts research focused on engineering education, specifically the development of social responsibility in engineering students. Other areas of interest include ethics, service learning, and sustainability education. Dr. Canney received bachelors degrees in Civil Engineering and Mathematics from Seattle University, a masters in Civil Engineering from Stanford University with an emphasis on structural engineering, and a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. Dr. Canney taught in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Seattle University for four years and now works in private consulting.

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Abstract

The question of what comprises effective engineering ethics education is intriguing and complex. Broadly, this research is attempting to identify strong models for macroethics education, so-called “exemplars”. A large national survey of educators of engineering and computing students found that the majority believed that undergraduate and graduate students received insufficient education on ethics and societal issues (ESI); about 1400 described their own instructional practices related to ESI. A sub-set of 37 survey participants were interviewed. This resulted in 35 descriptions of current ethics instructional practices: two programs, 32 individual courses (including first-year, capstone design, required and elective technical courses, and standalone ethics courses), and one co-curricular setting. Based on tenets of the I-Corps-L program, particularly its “customer discovery” process, the goal of the interview analysis was to determine which of these teaching methods warranted further study as exemplars of macroethics instruction which have the potential be scaled and sustained at locations beyond their existing level of use. To assist in this process, four evaluation criteria were established: (a) likely to have a high impact on student learning; (b) strong assessment methods; (c) novel or innovative; (d) transferability (to other institutions or disciplines); these were rated on a scale from 1 (low) to 4 (high). An overall evaluation on level of interest / excitement for including this teaching example in further research employed a 1 (low) to 10 (highest) scale. Raters could also provide open comments. The interviewees were asked to rate at least six de-identified teaching examples, and 29 sets of ratings were completed. The five members of the research team each rated 19 to 35 teaching examples. This resulted in a minimum of eight ratings for each teaching example. These ratings often had wide disparities. For example, ten cases had ratings for novelty across the full spectrum from 1 to 4, demonstrating a lack of consensus. The write-in comments provided insights into differences in what raters perceived as likely to impact students’ learning, novel, or transferable. Given the disparities in opinions, it would be useful to develop and implement a common/standard assessment method for ethics teaching modalities to better delineate what constitutes an exemplar.

Bielefeldt, A. R., & Polmear, M., & Swan, C., & Knight, D., & Canney, N. E. (2018, June), Effective Ethics Education: Examining Differing Faculty Perspectives Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30355

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