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Examining the Relations between Moral Intuitions and Values among First-Year Engineering Students: Implications for Culturally Responsive Ethics Education

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2022 ASEE - North Central Section Conference


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

March 18, 2022

Start Date

March 18, 2022

End Date

April 4, 2022

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Scott Duplicate Streiner University of Pittsburgh

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Scott Streiner is an Assistant Professor in the Industrial Engineering Department, teaches in the First-Year Engineering Program and works in the Engineering Education Research Center (EERC) in the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. From 2017-2021, he served as an Assistant Professor in the Experiential Engineering Education Department at Rowan University where he taught first and second year engineering students. Scott received his Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus on global engineering education. His current research areas include cultural competency in engineering education, pedagogical inmoves through game-based and playful learning, and engineering ethics education. Scott has recently received funding through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct research on the impact of game-based learning on the development of first-year students’ ethical reasoning, as well as research on the development of culturally responsive ethics education in global contexts. He is an active member of the Kern Engineering Entrepreneurship Network (KEEN), the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and serves on the First-Year Engineering Education (FYEE) Conference Steering Committee.

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Qin Zhu Colorado School of Mines Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Zhu is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Engineering Education in the Department of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences and an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Engineering, Design & Society and the Robotics Graduate Program at the Colorado School of Mines. Dr. Zhu is Editor for International Perspectives at the Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science, Associate Editor for Engineering Studies, Chair of American Society for Engineering Education's Division of Engineering Ethics, and Executive Committee Member of the International Society for Ethics Across the Curriculum. Dr. Zhu's research interests include the cultural foundations of engineering (ethics) education, global engineering education, and ethics and policy of computing technologies and robotics.

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Ethics as long been recognized as vital to responsible engineering practice, with research focusing mostly on the effects of ethics pedagogies and programs on ethical reasoning and knowledge. Historically, engineering ethics has tended to be “normative” – telling people how they should think about or behave in engineering. Recent work in moral and cultural psychology has called into question the extent to which ethical judgements are based primarily ethical reasoning. Ethical judgments are also the result of intuitions, emotions, and held values. The authors argue that more empirical research using this perspective is needed to explore first-year engineering students’ ethical intuition. As such, this quantitative and qualitative research study examines the relationship between moral intuitions, measured using the Moral Foundations Questionnaire (MFQ), and student-held values about what is important in the engineering profession.

Around 285 first-year engineering students were surveyed at a public university in the northeast United States as part of a larger research initiative that seeks to understand the effects of diverse cultural and educational experiences on ethical judgements in engineering. This paper reports the findings from a portion of this survey, namely the MFQ and the open-ended question “List three values you think are the most important for defining a good engineer”. Descriptive and correlational analyses are employed to examine meaningful connections between moral intuitions and values. Since moral foundations theory is based on a broader, more inclusive understanding of ethics, results from this research can be more easily generalized, compared, and built on in increasingly cross-cultural settings.

Streiner, S. D., & Zhu, Q. (2022, March), Examining the Relations between Moral Intuitions and Values among First-Year Engineering Students: Implications for Culturally Responsive Ethics Education Paper presented at 2022 ASEE - North Central Section Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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