July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
When working in a professional world, engineers often encounter problems that involve social and ethical considerations that cannot be solved using the technical skills that make up a majority of their engineering education. When encountering ethical challenges, an engineer should have ethical awareness and be reflective on the ethical implications of their decisions. It is important for universities to focus on improving their students’ ethical reasoning and social awareness if they want to develop successful engineering graduates that are ready to take on the challenges of the professional world. One way that the instruction of engineering ethics can improve is through increasing the understanding of prior knowledge that the students have. This will allow educators to create a better and more focused curriculum. This NSF-funded research study investigates how first-year engineering students conceptualize ethics and ethical decision making through the completion and analysis of concept maps.
Concept maps have been used for many years to illustrate an individual’s or a group’s topic knowledge. Concept maps have also been used at the start of a lesson to gain a baseline of students’ understanding. 225 first-year students from University of Connecticut, Rowan University, and University of Pittsburgh were asked to create concept maps of “ethical decision making” in engineering at the beginning of the 2020/2021 academic year. We analyzed the concept maps using both qualitative and quantitative approaches to gain a baseline measure of students' ethical awareness and decision making in selected contexts. Using the CMapsTools™ web tool, we analyzed the maps based on size, quality, and structure. The concept maps were then analyzed using text analysis to identify common words and concepts. Some patterns observed were that students do not include many links between concepts and therefore may have a low understanding of how such concepts are related. Students also leave out many important concepts in engineering ethics such as codes of ethics and ethical frameworks. With the knowledge gained from this research, first-year engineering programs can better explore how incoming students view decision-making and design more effective instructional practices.
Reed, J. B., & Streiner, S., & Burkey, D. D., & Cimino, R. T., & Pascal, J., & Young, M. F. (2021, July), “Mapping” the Landscape of First-Year Engineering Students’ Conceptualizations of Ethical Decision Making Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36534
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