June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.728.1 - 26.728.14
Exploring Implicit Understanding of Engineering Ethics in Students TeamsThis study explores engineering students’ understanding of engineering ethics as a sociallysituated and distributed feature of project teams. An important component of humanunderstanding is implicit understanding, which is difficult to articulate and to study. We set upand observed a group discussion of the ethical and social issues involved in students’ ongoingengineering design projects in order to explore engineering students’ implicit understanding ofethics. Eight discussions from four senior design project (SDP) teams were observed andrecorded. The video data were analyzed using cognitive ethnography and micro-scale discourseanalysis. The results showed that each team had different implicit understanding of ethics; therewas also a difference between each team’s explicit understanding and implicit understanding ofethical issues. Explicitly, students in all teams expressed some version of the view that theycould not be held responsible for the indirect consequence from their design, and instead it ismostly users’ or the third parties’ responsibility. Implicitly, however, there was significantvariation between the teams in their understanding of ethics. For example, one team’s discussion,their language choices and gestures, revealed an empathetic connection with the users. Anotherteam understood potential ethical concerns as threats or attacks and became defensive about theirdesign. These findings show that there are complicated layers of understanding aboutengineering ethics among SDP teams, and those layers are sometimes in tension. These layersmay have their sources in society at large, the cultures of the engineering profession ordepartment, the microculture of the SDP team, or the individual temperament of the students.Understanding these layers and their development may be an important resource for trainingsocially responsible engineers.
Lee, E. A., & Gans, N., & Grohman, M. G., & Tacca, M., & Brown, M. J. (2015, June), Exploring Implicit Understanding of Engineering Ethics in Student Teams Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24065
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