June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Design in Engineering Education
This paper provides an overview of the ways that ethics and societal impacts (ESI) are taught and assessed in senior capstone design courses by engineering faculty. A national survey was conducted in spring 2016 that asked engineering and computing faculty to report the types of courses where they incorporated ESI. Among the 1216 respondents who incorporated these topics into one or more courses, 486 (40%) indicated that they taught these topics in capstone design across a range of disciplines. The ESI topics taught by over half of the capstone design instructors included: professional practice issues, safety, engineering decisions in the face of uncertainty, and engineering codes of ethics. On average, individuals (n=212) reported using five different methods to teach students about ESI in their capstone courses, most commonly: engineering design projects (70%), in-class discussions (58%), case studies (58%), examples of professional scenarios (57%), and lectures (55%). This range of methods appears to involve the cognitive, affective, social, and psychomotor domains of learning, which has been proposed as providing an effective way to improve ethical reasoning. For assessment of ESI learning, an average of two methods were used per course with a maximum of 8 methods reported; 10% did not assess ESI knowledge. The most commonly used assessment methods were: group-based written assignments (47%), individual reflections (33%), and individual homework assignments graded with a rubric (31%). Instructor satisfaction with the ability to assess the outcomes of societal context and ethics instruction was weakly correlated with the number of assessment methods used (correl. coeff. 0.25). Among all survey respondents 62% believed that undergraduate students in their program learned about ESI via capstone design, the most commonly identified course type. The results of this study indicate that ethical and societal impact issues can be readily incorporated into capstone design courses in any discipline, and provides examples of effective teaching and assessment methods.
Bielefeldt, A. R., & Polmear, M., & Knight, D., & Canney, N. E., & Swan, C. W. (2017, June), Incorporation of Ethics and Societal Impact Issues into Senior Capstone Design Courses: Results of a National Survey Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28516
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