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Ethical Reasoning Development in Project-based Learning

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Understanding our Students & Ethical Development

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.539.1 - 24.539.12



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Paper Authors


Elizabeth A. McBride-Pluskwik Iron Range Engineering, a program of Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Elizabeth leads the Business and Statistics competencies at Iron Range Engineering, a project-based engineering education program located in northern Minnesota. She served as Assistant Professor of Accounting at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA before joining IRE in 2012. Previously, she was the Controller for MSI Mold Builders in Cedar Rapids, IA, and an Auditor/Tax Accountant for McGladrey & Pullen, CPAs, in Cedar Rapids, IA. Her Ph.D. in Organization and Management is from Capella University, Minneapolis. Elizabeth enjoys exploring and photographing the natural beauty of northern Minnesota’s wilderness with her family and friends.

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Puteri S. Megat Hamari Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Dr. Puteri S. Megat Hamari is currently an Assistant Professor in Integrated Engineering at Minnesota State University. Mankato. She is with the Twin Cities Engineering, a project-based learning program where students are taught through collaboration in small groups on industry sourced engineering projects. In addition to teaching engineering core competencies using project-based pedagogy, she also guides students in professional development. Dr. Megat Hamari was formerly a Visiting Scholar at the department of Physics and Astronomy and worked on interdisciplinary research between the Physics and the Diamond Research Group at Vanderbilt University. She has invaluable experience in the research and fabrication of diamond microstructures. Dr. Megat Hamari has fabricated microelectronic monolithic and freestanding boron-doped diamond resistors that involve micromachining processes. She was also responsible for conducting and maintaining experiments for the Low Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED) and Auger Spectroscopy at Vanderbilt. She earned her Bachelor of Engineering from Vanderbilt University and worked for Motorola Semiconductors Inc. as a process engineer in a wafer fabrication facility before continuing her graduate studies. Other than being busy with her research and caring for her two children, she loves to cook and being outdoors. She also has an interest in traveling and plans to visit all 50 states. Her goal is to inspire more women to become engineers.

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Ethical Reasoning Development in Project-based Learning By Dr. Elizabeth McBride and Dr. Puteri Megat-HamariThis paper will describe the method of ethics instruction in a specific project-based learningprogram with the aim to improve the current level of moral reasoning skills in the engineeringstudents enrolled in the program. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology(ABET) and the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) have endorsed efforts toimprove the teaching of ethics in the engineering curriculum. Criterion 3-f of the ABET outcomes,specifically calls for student attainment of an understanding of ethical and professionalresponsibility. In response, engineering educators seek to develop curriculum to improve moralreasoning skills, which should lead to increased understanding of processes used to solve ethicaldilemmas. This paper describes one method of developing ethical understanding and decision-making processes in the context of project-based learning, specifically students enrolled in IronRange Engineering or Twin Cities Engineering, sister programs jointly directed by Minnesota StateUniversity Mankato, Itasca Community College and Normandale Community College. Studentsin the program completed an online survey, the Defining Issues Test version 2, to measure theircurrent moral reasoning skills. Comparative descriptive statistics are presented to comparemeasured moral reasoning levels of this group with engineering students at other universitiesand with other college majors.The paper also documents the ethical development activities and discussions that the studentscomplete as part of the ethics curriculum during the year. The results inform engineeringeducators of the experience of using a particular ethical development curriculum model,specifically, small group discussions of ethical dilemmas moderated by team mentors and facultymembers, followed by written student reflection.The next step is to measure any change in moral development levels during the academic yearthrough a pre- and post-test administration of the DIT-2 survey. The results will inform theresearch team of the growth in moral development in our student group, assessing theeffectiveness of the method of ethics instruction used. Additionally, a longitudinal study tomeasure growth in moral decision-making skills during a four-year undergraduate engineeringprogram is planned.

McBride-Pluskwik, E. A., & Megat Hamari, P. S. (2014, June), Ethical Reasoning Development in Project-based Learning Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20430

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