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Ethics education has been recognized as increasingly important to engineering over the past two decades, although disagreement exists concerning how ethics can and should be taught in the classroom. With active learning strategies becoming a preferred method of instruction, a collaboration of authors from four universities (University of Pittsburgh, University of Connecticut, Rowan University and New Jersey Institute of Technology) are investigating how game-based or playful learning with strongly situated components can influence first-year engineering students’ ethical knowledge, awareness, and decision making.
This paper offers an overview and results of the progress to date of this three year, NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) grant that aims to (1) characterize the ethical awareness and decision making of first-year engineering students, (2) develop game-based learning interventions focused on ethical decision making, and (3) determine how (and why) game-based approaches affect students’ ethical awareness in engineering and the advantages of such approaches over non game-based approaches. Now in its second year, the authors have conducted a preliminary analysis of first-year students' ethical knowledge and organization via a concept mapping approach and have measured students' ethical reasoning using the Defining Issues Test 2 (DIT2) and Engineering Ethics Reasoning Instrument (EERI). Further, the authors have developed a suite of ethics-driven games that have been implemented across three of the universities, engaging over 400 first-year engineering students. Evaluation data has also been gathered for further game development and to assess initial student engagement and learning.
Year 1 has provided insight into where first-year engineering students “are at” in terms of ethical knowledge and reasoning when they come to college, and how game-based instruction can be effective in the development of these students into moral agents who understand the consequences of their decisions. Further results from this investigation will provide the engineering education community with a set of impactful and research-based playful learning pedagogy and assessment that will help students confront social and ethical dilemmas in their professional lives.
Burkey, D., & Young, M., & Cimino, R., & Pascal, J., & Dahm, K. (2022, August), Engineering Ethics Through High-Impact Collaborative/Competitive Scenarios (E-ETHICCS): Initial Results and Lessons Learned Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/42116
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