Asee peer logo

Measuring The Effectiveness Of A Required Ethics Class

Download Paper |


2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics - Courses and Curricula

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.871.1 - 14.871.14



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Norma Mattei University of New Orleans

visit author page

Norma Jean Mattei is an Associate Professor in the UNO Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Her research interests include engineering ethics and diversity, experimental testing, residual stress measurement using laser interferometry, and repetitive flood loss mitigation. She currently serves on the board of engineering registration in Louisiana and is a director on the ASCE Board of Direction.

visit author page

Download Paper |

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

Measuring the Effectiveness of a Required Ethics Class in an Undergraduate Engineering Curriculum The teaching of engineering ethics in the undergraduate curriculum has been of increasing importance since ABET 2000 requirements were instituted for program accreditation. Many undergraduate engineering programs now include a required course in ethics in order to demonstrate that students have an understanding of their ethical responsibility. The engineering programs at the University of New Orleans (UNO) have for several years required a one credit hour course in engineering ethics, taught by faculty in the Philosophy Department. How effective

Recognizing that academic dishonesty is a problem at most universities, a survey was administered to several classes at UNO. The survey was based on part of a recent large scale study called the PACE-1 Study, involving a seven section survey of 643 undergraduate engineering and pre-engineering students at eleven institutions, ranging from community colleges to large research universities. The PACE-1 study attempted to determine what is student cheating, how often does cheating occur, why do students cheat, and what methods can be used to reduce or stop cheating. Because of time constraints, the UNO survey was based on the first section of the PACE-1 survey. The UNO questionnaire was a short one-page voluntary survey that was given at the beginning of several large undergrad classes in order to try to determine what behaviors each student deems to be cheating and how many times in a typical semester the student participates in this type of behavior. In addition, the UNO survey asked students if they had taken an ethics course.

One hundred and thirty five students completed the survey. The results of the UNO survey were used to compare the self-reported cheating behavior of non-engineering students with that of engineering students. Additionally, the self-reported cheating behavior of engineering students who also reported having taken an ethics class is compared to those who did not indicate that they had taken an ethics class. These comparisons can be used as a measure of the effectiveness of teaching ethics with respect to a reduction of student self-reported cheating behavior.


Academic dishonesty is a problem at most universities, including the University of New Orleans (UNO). The percentage of students who report cheating varies by college major. Recent studies indicate that engineering students more frequently engage in cheating behavior than students of most other majors [1]. At the same time, accredited engineering programs must now demonstrate that their graduates have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility, the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context, and must be able to take into account economic, environmental, sustainability, manufacturability, ethical, health, safety, and other social and political considerations into their designs [2]. Academic dishonesty indicates that many students will approach their professional

Mattei, N. (2009, June), Measuring The Effectiveness Of A Required Ethics Class Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5147

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2009 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015