Asee peer logo

Facing Computer Ethics Dilemmas: Comparing Ethical Decision-Making Processes of Students in Computer Science with Non-Computer Science Majors

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Technical Session - Classroom Practices

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Amir Hedayati Mehdiabadi University of New Mexico

visit author page

Amir Hedayati is an Assistant Professor of Organization, Information & Learning Sciences at College of University Libraries & Learning Sciences at University of New Mexico. He received a Ph.D. in Human Resource Development from University of Illinois in 2018. He has a B.S. degree in Computer Engineering from Sharif University of Technology and an M.B.A. degree from University of Tehran. He has presented his research in past years at multiple conferences including American Evaluation Association, International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, and Academy of Human Resource Development.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The aim of this research paper is to understand whether and in what ways undergraduate computer science students decide differently from their peers in other disciplines when facing computing ethics dilemmas. This study expands on previous research on ethical decision making among computing majors. The findings of this research have important implications for research and practice. For example, it examines the arguments from previous literature regarding the differences of ethical decision making among different professions. Moreover, it will have important implications for design of ethics courses in undergraduate level. The data is collected from two groups of students in a large Midwestern University: (1) 33 computer science undergraduate students enrolled in a course on computing professional ethics, and (2) 40 undergraduate students enrolled in a course on business ethics and law. Although this second course was taught in the college of business, the students were majoring in different fields including advertisement, communication, agriculture, arts, etc. The collected data include both group of students’ postings responding to three ethical scenarios in computing and their responses to their peers as part of their regular class activities. Following a qualitative research design, content analysis was used to analyze the data. The results showed that computer science students, overall, made more ethical decisions when facing computing ethics scenarios. In this paper, the underlying reasons for the decisions made by both groups and implications for teaching ethics to college students will be discussed.

Hedayati Mehdiabadi, A. (2019, June), Facing Computer Ethics Dilemmas: Comparing Ethical Decision-Making Processes of Students in Computer Science with Non-Computer Science Majors Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32832

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015