June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.848.1 - 24.848.12
Learning about Ethics in an Interdisciplinary ContextAbstractIn conjunction with a National Science Foundation-sponsored scholarship program, we have aninterdisciplinary peer mentoring support system for STEM students that addresses keyprofessional development areas, including ethics. The students receive financial support and anopportunity to develop academic, professional and life skills through a weekly scholars seminar.The seminars familiarize scholars with various university support services, allow participation ininterdisciplinary discussions addressing broad academic and career issues, and buildrelationships with other scholars from diverse STEM disciplines. The seminar coursework iscentered around semester-long investigative projects designed and completed by teams, typicallyinterdisciplinary ones. A small group of math, science and engineering faculty oversees theseminar and selection of scholars.Our approach is to provide faculty mentoring while developing stepping-stone peer-mentoringfor professional development. This structure supports students and helps them developleadership qualities. The recipients, as defined by the program criteria, are diverse: multiplemajors, male, female, nontraditional students, students with different ethnicities, religiousaffiliations, backgrounds, and family structure. By including all eligible STEM majors at ouruniversity, we have been able to increase the number of women recipients, which creates a senseof critical mass to support the women in engineering.Our program has demonstrated past successes in addressing issues important to the field andaccreditation boards such as functioning on multi-disciplinary teams; understanding ethicalresponsibilities; developing a sense of the global and societal context of STEM work; andsupporting the idea of life-long learning. Our recent focus has been on incorporating ethicalstudies through the semester-long interdisciplinary projects.After a brief overview of the interdisciplinary scholarship cohort and associated seminar course,this paper will focus on description and assessment of the team projects from two consecutivesemester that were geared toward improving student understanding of ethical responsibilities.The first semester (spring 2013) focused on ethics in a disciplinary context and included apresentation from a philosophy professor about ethical frameworks. Discipline-based teamsdiscussed and critiqued ethical case studies and wrote reflections. The interdisciplinary contextwas examined through 1) class-wide discussions and 2) interdisciplinary, small groupdiscussions where students presented their discipline-based case to students in other STEMdisciplines. The second semester (fall 2013) used interdisciplinary projects to explore the broadtopic of “garbage”. This is a topic important to society that STEM students, especiallyengineers, will need to be able to address with ethical responsibility at the forefront of theirdesigns. Students were asked to address ethical issues related to their chosen garbage topic.Quantitative and qualitative assessment of student experiences and ethical awareness will bepresented in this paper. Reflections of the process by faculty mentors will also be included.
Raridon, R., & Bates, R. A., & Nykanen, D. K., & Hart, M. C., & Sealy, W. (2014, June), Learning about Ethics in a Multidisciplinary Context Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20739
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