San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
25.836.1 - 25.836.14
Interrupted Case Method for Teaching Ethics in Transportation Engineering and Systems Management CourseThe objective of this paper is to apply Interrupted Case Method for Teaching Ethics toundergraduate Students in Transportation Engineering and Systems Management course. Ethicsis an integral part of professional practice and hence it is an important subject. However, veryfew faculty teach ethics as a significant part of their classes. Engineers can have a significantsocial impact. Therefore, it is critical that their decisions should based on sound ethicaljudgment. As per the ABET Criterion 3 Program Outcome (f) engineering programs mustdemonstrate that their students attain an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.These needs were the driving force for the authors’ motivation to pursue the study.In fall 2005 the course was taught using a traditional lecture method. This course was used as thecontrol group. In fall 2010 an experimental group was taught with an ethics component thatcounted for 15% of the grade. Performance of the control group was compared with that of theexperimental (ethics) group. The average course grades for the control group and theexperimental groups were 63 and 75 respectively. The experimental group showed 19%improvement over the control group. With a calculated t value of 3.2, the groups are significantlydifferent. The improvement of the ethics group was statistically significant at an alpha value of0.05.In this study the value of Teaching Ethics is documented. Students that engage in unethicalbehavior will most likely continue to do so as employees. Professional unethical behavior cancause significant tangible and intangible losses to employers in particular and society in general.Many students reported in their survey that, up until this class, their education did not adequatelyprepare them for the ethical and moral dilemmas they would encounter as professionals. In theiroral and written reports they stated that prior to this course they relied on pre-existing beliefsmostly based on their gut-feelings and observations of their peers’ behaviors. These reports arein agreement with those of Johansen and Luckowski. The improvements in grade and personalsurvey results indicate that this class provided the students with valuable insight into the ethicalproblems they will encounter as professionals and a framework for making ethical decisions.The authors strongly agree with the statement of Herreid that the greatest strength of cases is“that they integrate material across many fields and demand critical thinking in assessinginformation.” The authors further agree with Herreid’s argument that the best technique for usingcases is the “Interrupted Case Method.” This process represents much of the work conducted inengineering by letting the students’ thoughts and processes continually be refined as additionaldata is received. Twelve case studies involving problems that are commonly faced in engineeringpractice, were taught in the course. The students received the data in 4 steps. Each step wasseparated by three weeks. The “interrupted case method” gave the students opportunities toincrease their ability to integrate material across many fields by 33%, critical thinking skills by29%, and the ability to see alternative approaches by 27%.The authors plan to extend this strategy to three other courses over the next three years. Themethod presented in this study may be used at other institutions with appropriate modificationsin order to prepare the students for the ethical dilemmas they will encounter when they enterengineering practice.
Brooks, R. M., & Kavuturu, J., & Cetin, M. (2012, June), Interrupted Case Method for Teaching Ethics in Transportation Engineering and Systems Management Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/21593
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