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Longitudinal Qualitative Case Study of One Engineering Student’s Perceptions of Ethics and Social Responsibility: Corvin’s Story

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Understanding Students' Authentic and Reflective Experiences of Ethics Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/37465

Download Count

64

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Paper Authors

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Stephanie Claussen San Francisco State University

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Stephanie Claussen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering at San Francisco State University. Previously, she spent eight years as a Teaching Professor in the Engineering, Design, and Society Division and the Electrical Engineering Department at the Colorado School of Mines. She obtained her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Her current engineering education research interests include engineering students' understanding of ethics and social responsibility, sociotechnical education, and assessment of engineering pedagogies.

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Shiloh James Howland Brigham Young University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-9165-3562

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Shiloh James Howland is a doctoral candidate at Brigham Young University in Educational Inquiry, Measurement, and Evaluation. She received a master's degree in instructional psychology and technology as well as a bachelor's degree and master's degree in geology. Her current research interests are in educational assessment and measurement.

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Swetha Nittala Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Swetha is currently a Lecturer and a Science and Engineering Education Fellow at the Mechanical Engineering Department, Stanford University. She recently completed her PhD from the School of Engineering Education at Purdue where she focused on identifying and developing leadership and other socio-technical capabilities among engineering students and professionals. She is passionate about improving engineering education and practice and has been working in the areas of innovation, leadership development, diversity, equity, and inclusion, ethics, and, faculty development.

Previously, she also worked for companies including Deloitte, Sprint, ProStem and Credit Suisse, both as an internal and external research consultant focusing on areas of leadership development, performance management, competency development and people analytics. She integrates her research in Engineering Education with prior background in Human Resource Management and Engineering to understand better ways to develop STEM workforce both in universities and companies.

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Brent K. Jesiek Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Brent K. Jesiek is an Associate Professor in the Schools of Engineering Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He also leads the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC) research group, and is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award to study boundary-spanning roles and competencies among early career engineers. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech. Dr. Jesiek draws on expertise from engineering, computing, and the social sciences to advance understanding of geographic, disciplinary, and historical variations in engineering education and practice.

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Carla B. Zoltowski is an assistant professor of engineering practice in the Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Education, and Director of the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program within the College of Engineering at Purdue. Prior to her appointment in ECE, Dr. Zoltowski was Co-Director of the EPICS Program. She holds a B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue. Her research interests include the professional formation of engineers, diversity, inclusion, and equity in engineering, human-centered design, engineering ethics, and leadership.

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Abstract

Ethics and social responsibility have frequently been identified as important areas of practice for professional engineers. Thus, measuring engineering ethics and social responsibility is critical to assessing the abilities of engineering students, understanding how those abilities change over time, and exploring the impacts of certain ethical interventions, such as coursework or participation in extracurricular activities. However, measurement of these constructs is difficult, as they are complex and multi-faceted. Much prior research has been carried out to develop and assess ethical interventions in engineering education, but the findings have been mixed, in part because of these measurement challenges.

To address this variation in prior work, we have designed and carried out a five year, longitudinal, mixed-methods study to explore students’ perceptions of ethics and social responsibility. This study relies on both repeated use of quantitative measures related to ethics and repeated qualitative interviews to explore how students’ perceptions of these issues change across time, between institutions, and in response to participation in certain experiences.

This paper focuses on the thematic analysis and preliminary results of the 33 pairs of interviews that were gathered from participants at three different universities in Year 1 and Year 4 of their undergraduate studies. Given the multifaceted and complex nature of ethics, measuring and assessing how students’ perceive its various aspects (e.g. those related to ethical climate, moral awareness, moral disengagement etc.) has proven challenging. Furthermore, investigating how students’ perceptions of these concepts vary over time adds another layer of complexity for analyzing our longitudinal data. For example, a student might show increased understanding in one aspect of ethics over time and consistency in another, making it difficult to identify patterns or the impacts of specific influences.

Due to this large variation in student experiences and perspectives, we used single case analysis to analyze the longitudinal interviews of a single participant, Corvin. From this analysis, three themes emerged in the student's responses: a shift in his views of engineering ethics and social responsibility from idealism to pragmatism; an adjustment in how he thinks engineers should balance their responsibilities to the public and to their employers; and the characteristics he identifies for ethical engineers. This paper will be beneficial for engineering educators and researchers who are interested in measuring and developing ethical capabilities among engineering students.

Claussen, S., & Howland, S. J., & Nittala, S., & Jesiek, B. K., & Zoltowski, C. B. (2021, July), Longitudinal Qualitative Case Study of One Engineering Student’s Perceptions of Ethics and Social Responsibility: Corvin’s Story Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://strategy.asee.org/37465

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