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Introductory Physics: Introducing Ethics

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Engineering Physics and Physics Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics and Physics

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Paper Authors


Jessica Patricia Conry Arkansas Tech University

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Dr. Jessica Conry is an Associate Professor of Physics at Arkansas Tech University and the Director of the Arkansas Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Dr. Conry earned a BS in Physics from Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas and MS and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas. Her primary area of research interest is fundamental laser physics including beam shaping, polarization, and propagation. Education research interest includes bridging the gap between physics courses (taught by a physicist) and engineering courses (taught by an engineer) and program assessment.

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Amber Harrington Arkansas Tech University

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Dr. Amber Harrington is an Assistant Professor of Physics in the Physical Sciences Department at Arkansas Tech University.

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The physics and engineering physics programs at our institution are currently in the process of preparing to apply for ABET accreditation through the Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission (ANSAC) and Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC), respectively. These programs follow an “Introduce, Reinforce, Master” curriculum map as part of the assessment plan where each student learning outcome (SLO) is assessed in at least three courses of different levels, so that each SLO is assessed at each of the three levels (introduced, reinforced, and mastered). We seek to effectively assess, at the introductory level, the proposed ANSAC SLO (5) and the new EAC SLO (4) with a series of case studies and a rubric in our introductory physics course. There are two primary difference between the SLOs from the two commissions. Firstly, the EAC requires that the students recognize while the ANSAC requires that the students understand ethical and professional responsibilities. Secondly, the EAC requires the students to make informed judgments in engineering situations while the ANSAC requires the students to understand the impact of their technical and/or scientific solutions. With this in mind, we have implemented a series of case studies that are analyzed by students during the introductory physics lab. Because these SLOs are being assessed at the “Introduce” level, we are requiring students to recognize examples of unethical and/or unprofessional conduct in engineering and scientific situations. The “Reinforce” and “Master” levels will assess the students’ ability to make informed judgments and their understanding of ethical and professional responsibilities in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.

In this paper, we discuss the details of the case studies and the rubric developed to assess the students. Additionally, we will discuss changes that will be implemented to the assignment and assessment processes so that student learning of the skills and concepts required of the SLOs will improve.

Conry, J. P., & Harrington, A. (2020, June), Introductory Physics: Introducing Ethics Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34879

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