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Efficacy of Macroethics Education in Engineering

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


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 serves as the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Education in the CEAE Department, as well as the ABET assessment coordinator. Professor Bielefeldt is the faculty director of the Sustainable By Design Residential Academic Program, a living-learning community where interdisciplinary students learn about and practice sustainability. Bielefeldt is also a licensed P.E. Professor Bielefeldt's research interests in engineering education include service-learning, sustainable engineering, social responsibility, ethics, and diversity.

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Nathan E Canney Seattle University

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Dr. Canney teaches civil engineering at Seattle University. His research focuses on engineering education, specifically the development of social responsibility in engineering students. Other areas of interest include ethics, service learning, and the role of the public in engineering decisions. 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.

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Christopher Swan Tufts University Orcid 16x16

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Chris Swan is Associate Dean at the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and an associate professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Tufts University. He has additional appointments in the Department of Education and the 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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There is a need for engineering education to prepare students to address macroethical issues. Macroethics refers to the broader ethical obligations of the profession such as those embodied by social responsibility and sustainability. The extent to which students graduate with an understanding of macroethical issues is unclear and in need of organization. The goal of this new research project is to evaluate the various ways in which macroethics is taught in engineering, examining variations in pedagogy and topics, as well as examining differences between disciplines and institution types. This paper describes the first phase of the research, to develop surveys that will reveal a national picture of engineering macroethics instruction. Survey development began based on a review of the literature. One survey was targeted to deans and department chairs, aimed at identifying the names of faculty at their institutions who are involved in ethics instruction. A second survey was aimed at faculty who teach macroethical topics in courses for engineering students. A third survey was aimed at faculty who mentor co-curricular activities where students may learn about or engage with macroethical issues. Pilot versions of the three surveys were distributed to selected faculty at three institutions: a large public research-intensive university, a private research-intensive university, and a Christian-affiliated, private Baccalaureate university. Approximately 30 responses indicated a breadth of courses where faculty infused a wide variety of macroethical topics. It also revealed the challenges associated with encouraging faculty to respond to surveys. A handful of faculty participated in follow-up interviews, giving feedback to help improve the surveys. The surveys are currently being revised, with national dissemination planned in spring 2016. The dissemination plan includes ASEE list serves and a targeted list of individuals who have publications and have received grants related to macroethics education. Some national survey results should be available in time for the poster in June 2016.

Bielefeldt, A. R., & Canney, N. E., & Swan, C., & Knight, D. (2016, June), Efficacy of Macroethics Education in Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26919

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