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Engineering Ethics Curriculum Incorporation Methods And Results From A Nationally Administered Standardized Examination: Background, Literature, And Research Methods

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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

Engineering Ethics - Courses and Curricula

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.555.1 - 14.555.38



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Paper Authors


Brock Barry United States Military Academy

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Brock E. Barry is a post-doctoral research assistant in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dr. Barry received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University and holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Dr. Barry has accepted a position as an Assistant Professor within the Department of Civil & Mechanical Engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He is a licensed professional engineer in four states and has 10+ years of consulting engineering experience. His research interests include engineering ethics, assessment, motivation theory, and integration of professional skills in the engineering curriculum.

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Matthew Ohland Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and is the Past President of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society. He received his Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996. Previously, he served as Assistant Director of the NSF-sponsored SUCCEED Engineering Education Coalition. He studies longitudinal student records in engineering education, team-member effectiveness, and the implementation of high-engagement teaching methods.

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

Engineering Ethics Curriculum Incorporation Methods and Results from a Nationally Administered Standardized Examination: Background, Literature, & Research Methods Abstract

The ethics literature within the engineering arena is long on opinions, but short on evidence as to the most effective curriculum models for incorporating an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility. Research related to professional ethics has primarily focused on assessment of student learning, rather than evaluation of curriculum integration methods. A limited number of studies have been published that compare two methods of curriculum integration, yet no rigorous studies that compare multiple methods of curriculum incorporation are known to exist. Without clear evidence of best methods, the debate will continue, and there will be no assurance that the methods currently in use are the most effective.

Within this paper, a recently completed research program is described that evaluated the methods of assimilating ethics into the engineering curriculum to determine if a relationship exists between the curriculum models and the outcome on a nationally administered examination, engineering-specific standardized examination. The study’s population was engineering students during the time period between October 1996 and April 2005 enrolled at nine academic institutions in the southeast United States for which valuable data are available.

A mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) research program was designed and executed. The qualitative aspects of the study focused on research questions related to the impetus and considerations given to curriculum changes made by the twenty-three discrete engineering programs that participated in the study. The qualitative research questions were investigated through a process of semi-structured interviews conducted with program representatives and evaluation of an extensive number of ABET Self-Study accreditation documents. Once the curriculum models utilized by the participating programs were identified and defined for the chronological limits of the study, a quantitative process was implemented to compare the curriculum models to performance on the ethics section of the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination. A student-level dataset of subject scores was obtained for all administrations of the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination for each of the participating programs. Statistical techniques were utilized to evaluate the relationship between curriculum methods and examination performance.

This paper will provide a statement of the perceived educational issues and a comprehensive summary of the applicable literature. A detailed discussion of the study’s design and implemented methods will be presented. Subsequent publications will present the findings, discussion, and implications resulting from the completed study. This study was executed to fulfill dissertation research requirements associated with doctoral program in Engineering Education at Purdue University.

Barry, B., & Ohland, M. (2009, June), Engineering Ethics Curriculum Incorporation Methods And Results From A Nationally Administered Standardized Examination: Background, Literature, And Research Methods Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4621

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