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Learning And Teaching Ethics In Engineering: Preparing Engineering Faculty To Teach Ethics

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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

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.810.1 - 8.810.7



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Paper Authors

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Nancy Tuana

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John Wisw

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John Christman

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Andy Lau

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Thomas Litzinger

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

Learning and Teaching Ethics in Engineering: Preparing Engineering Faculty to Teach Ethics

Thomas Litzinger, John Christman, Andy Lau, Nancy Tuana, and John Wise

Penn State


Through assessment processes recently put into place, many engineering departments at Penn State identified a need to enhance the ethics components of their curricula. To support departments in their enhancement processes, the College of Engineering worked with the College of the Liberal Arts to create a faculty development program to prepare engineering faculty to teach ethics, entitled, “Learning and Teaching Ethics in Engineering.” The program was designed to allow engineering faculty to gain some background in ethics and to develop ethics activities for their courses and methods for assessing them. This paper provides a description of the program, a summary of the learning objectives, instructional approaches, assessment methods developed by the participants, and a summary of the assessments of the effectiveness of the program.


Over the past several years, departments in the College of Engineering have designed and implemented assessment and feedback processes to improve their curricula as required by the ABET accreditation criteria. Through these processes, many departments identified a need to improve the ethics components of their curricula. Various options to address this need were considered by the Faculty Advisory Board of the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education, and a faculty taskforce on the ethical, societal, and global aspects of engineering education at Penn State. Together the Faculty Advisory Board and the Taskforce considered different sets of learning objectives for ethics education and possible options for achieving those objectives. However, despite considerable effort, the groups could not agree on a set of objectives or on a single approach to ethics education. Ultimately the groups reached the decision that each department should define its own learning objectives related to ethics and select appropriate pedagogical approaches to achieve them.

Although there was a lack of consensus on learning objectives and pedagogical approaches for ethics education, most of the departments did prefer integrating ethics into engineering courses, as opposed to having students take a course in ethics or philosophy. However, this approach raised two important issues: in general, engineering faculty members do not have appropriate knowledge and experience to teach engineering ethics, and they are not comfortable addressing ethics or

Tuana, N., & Wisw, J., & Christman, J., & Lau, A., & Litzinger, T. (2003, June), Learning And Teaching Ethics In Engineering: Preparing Engineering Faculty To Teach Ethics Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11621

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