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Integration Of Engineering Ethics Into The Curriculum: Student Performance And Feedback

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.750.1 - 8.750.10



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Keyser

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Ronald Musiak

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Richard Mindek

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Mary Vollaro

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Steven Schreiner

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Integration of Engineering Ethics Into The Curriculum: Student Performance and Feedback Richard B. Mindek, Jr., Thomas K. Keyser, Ronald E. Musiak, Steven Schreiner, Mary B. Vollaro

Western New England College, Springfield Massachusetts

Abstract Several ethics lectures were developed and integrated into two diverse courses taught in the School of Engineering at Western New England College during the Fall 2001 semester. This included a single one-hour lecture given to 39 seniors from mechanical, electrical and industrial engineering disciplines preparing for their capstone senior design projects and two one-hour lectures given to 88 freshmen in five sections of an Introduction to Engineering class. This integration was initiated for a variety of reasons, including concern over meeting accreditation criteria, a desire to make ethics emphasis more explicit in the curriculum, and personal interest of the faculty. The lectures were based on case studies and a philosophically linked method for evaluating ethical dilemmas, taught during an ethics workshop attended by one of the faculty at the Illinois Institute of Technology during the summer of 2001.

Based on student comments and on data collected from Impact Surveys at the end of the semester, this first formal integration of ethics into these courses was successful. While most students admitted never having been taught professional or business ethics in the classroom previously, they indicated in the survey data that the lectures increased their awareness, changed their understanding and increased their ability to deal with ethical issues. They also felt that an appropriate amount of time was spent on ethics during the semester. In addition, assessment of student ethics knowledge was made based on quiz and final exam results. While the survey data were positive, assessment was mixed, showing that student retention of the ethics material appeared good immediately following lectures, but weak when they were asked to apply it in a simulated ethical dilemma on a final exam. Overall, the data suggest that the material was well received, assisted the students in their professional development, but that integration should be increased in the freshmen year and extended through every year to achieve complete integration. It also suggests student comprehension of anecdotal and case study material is highly dependent on experiential level.

This paper presents our experiences and lessons learned while introducing philosophically linked ethics concepts and case studies in our engineering curriculum, both to meet accreditation requirements and graduate superior professionals.

Background Ethics integration into engineering courses at Western New England College (WNEC) formally began in the Fall 2001 semester. Previously, ethics had been implied through statements on “Integrity of Scholarship” made in the college catalogue, through course policies handouts, or most recently, through the Summer Orientation and Registration Program (SOAR) for incoming freshmen, who were given an explicit ethics homework problem to work on over the summer and turn in when they arrived at school in the fall. This integration came as a direct result of faculty participation in an “Ethics Across the Curriculum” workshop given at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) during the previous summer. And, as planning for fall courses and faculty dialogue on ethics integration in the School of Engineering at WNEC continued over the

Keyser, T., & Musiak, R., & Mindek, R., & Vollaro, M., & Schreiner, S. (2003, June), Integration Of Engineering Ethics Into The Curriculum: Student Performance And Feedback Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11446

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