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Facilitating The Development Of Students’ Personal Ethics In Cultivating Professional Ethics In Engineering Classrooms

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Ethical Roles: Admins, Government, Industry

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.622.1 - 10.622.9



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Paper Authors

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June Marshall

author page

John Marshall

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

Facilitating the Development of Student’s Personal Ethics in Cultivating Professional Ethics in Engineering Classrooms

Dr. June Marshall, Dr. John Marshall Saint Joseph’s College/ University of Southern Maine

This document focuses on how ethics education, more globally referred to as character education, is being implemented into an undergraduate college program. Very successful techniques are discussed that have been proven useful in providing instruction to future professionals in national character education curriculums involving morals, values and ethics. Suggestions for integrating character education into the engineering ethics requirement are highlighted.

Engineering programs across the nation are investigating techniques to implement the ABET accreditation requirements (Engineering Criteria 2000) regarding ethics instruction for engineers. According to Criterion 3 of ABET’s Engineering Criteria 2000, “engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have . . . an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility” (Engineering, 1997). Lewis (2004) suggests, “professional ethics are molded and shaped by three identifiable attributes.” The first attribute involves the development of the moral individual, the second is the influence the profession has on the individual and the third involves the standards that govern ethical conduct which have been developed by the professional society.

This new emphasis in ethics education is not limited to the engineering profession alone. In fact, this is a component of a much more global movement entitled Character Education. Character Education’s roots lie in behavioral ethics, and can be viewed as an understanding of desirable and undesirable actions based on a society’s perceptions and norms. Once an individual understands and perceives society’s distinctions between positive and negative actions, character education then enables the individual to internalize these values. As a result, the individual develops a personal code of professional conduct, which then guides his/her daily interaction. The professional code cannot be developed before the personal code. Gee’s article published by the National Society of Professional Engineers (2004), highlights this issue and states “blind devotion to ethical codes will not address the ethical concerns of the engineering profession. The final burden is upon the individual’s conscience and values.” The question then remains, how do Engineering curriculums develop appropriate learning experiences to facilitate the development of personal codes that will positively impact the professional code?

Whitbeck’s (2004, Undergraduate Education in Practical Ethics) agrees that “rather than simply studying a code, a more engaging active learning approach” is needed. The “Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science” promotes addressing ethics

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Marshall, J., & Marshall, J. (2005, June), Facilitating The Development Of Students’ Personal Ethics In Cultivating Professional Ethics In Engineering Classrooms Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15178

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