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Finding A "Place" For Reading And Discussion Courses: Design And Assessment Of "Social And Ethical Impacts Of Technology"

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Conference

2007 Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Approaches to Learning Outcomes Assessment in Liberal Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count

30

Page Numbers

12.743.1 - 12.743.30

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/1963

Download Count

25

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Paper Authors

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Kyle Oliver University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Kyle Oliver is a graduate student in the Department of Engineering Physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Traci Nathans-Kelly

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Dr. Traci Kelly is an Assistant Faculty Associate in the Department of Engineering Professional Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Sandra Courter University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Dr. Sandra Courter is the Director of the Engineering Learning Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Laura Grossenbacher University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Dr. Laura Grossenbacher is the Director of Technical Communications in the Department of Engineering Professional Development at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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

Finding a “place” for reading and discussion courses: Design and assessment of “Social and Ethical Impacts of Technology” Abstract

This paper discusses the development and assessment of a reading and discussion course entitled “Social and Ethical Impacts of Technology.” Taught in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Engineering Professional Development by members of the department’s technical communication faculty, the course combined assigned readings, an in-class and an online discussion, and an end-of-semester writing assignment to help students achieve the following learning outcomes:

• Outcome 1: Articulate connections among engineering, ethics, community, history, social change, and politics by actively listening and participating in a small discussion setting • Outcome 2: Recognize and work with the role of uncertainty in engineering and its relationship to social and ethical dimensions • Outcome 3: Analyze and assess the social and ethical impact of technology on society by critically thinking about the readings and discussion topics • Outcome 4: Communicate effectively by writing and speaking • Outcome 5: Identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems related to professional and ethical responsibilities, including interdisciplinary approaches to said problems

Our three-pronged assessment scheme measured success of the learning outcomes through (1) interviews with a student focus group and with individual instructors; (2) written student surveys, including a short mid-semester evaluation and Elaine Seymour’s Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) protocol at the end of the semester; and (3) review of the online discussion forum transcripts and the final research projects. Results suggest that students satisfactorily achieved Outcomes 1–3 but that adjustments should be made to the course to help students better succeed with Outcomes 4–5. The authors discuss future plans for the course as well as exportable lessons for those interested in trying to find a place for similar courses at their own institutions. Throughout the paper, the authors also argue that flexible, interdisciplinary, student-centered discussion courses like this one have the potential to teach some of the ABET professional skills in way that students and faculty alike will find refreshing, exciting, and effective.

Introduction

In his “Ethics Instruction in Engineering Education: A (Mini) Meta-Analysis”1 David Haws examines 42 papers on the subject of engineering ethics instruction, all of them from the ASEE annual conference proceedings, 1996-1999. His paper identifies six common pedagogical foci for courses in engineering ethics: “the Professional Engineer’s Code of Ethics, humanist readings, grounding in theoretical ethics, ethical problem solving heuristics, case studies, and service learning.” He goes on to evaluate the effectiveness of each approach in light of three objectives that will help students deal with ethical problems: “we need to enhance the efficacy of our students’ divergent thinking, help them see engineering outcomes through the eyes of non- engineers, and give them access to the common vocabulary of ethical articulation.”

Oliver, K., & Nathans-Kelly, T., & Courter, S., & Grossenbacher, L. (2007, June), Finding A "Place" For Reading And Discussion Courses: Design And Assessment Of "Social And Ethical Impacts Of Technology" Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1963

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