June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Educational Research and Methods
22.1132.1 - 22.1132.11
Engaging engineers: How participation in co-curricular and extracurricularexperiences influences the ethical development of engineering undergraduatesIntroduction The effect of involvement in co-curricular (i.e. internships, co-ops, and service projects)and extracurricular (i.e. clubs and organizations) experiences on student persistence is welldocumented in the education literature. What remains unclear is the role that involvement playson the ethical development of undergraduate students. We believe that when students areinvolved in co-curricular and extracurricular experiences they are more thoughtful about theirethical decisions and can articulate how involvement influences their ethical development. In thispaper, we examine how engineering students at four similar institutions articulate their ethicaldevelopment in disparate ways.Research Question The research question guiding our analysis is: What is the role of co-curricular andextracurricular experiences in students’ ethical development?Data Collection Data were collected from 18 colleges and universities of differing Carnegieclassifications and geographical locations. Each campus visit included a focus group withengineering faculty, a focus group with undergraduate engineering students, and individualinterviews with campus administrators. We asked all participants about the culture of theinstitution, ethics in engineering, and student involvement in out-of-classroom experiences. Inthis paper, we examine the experiences of students attending the four smallest institutions in oursample. Data was analyzed from a total of eight focus groups: 4 engineering faculty focus groups(N= 23) and 4 undergraduate engineering student focus groups (N=31).Methods We used a grounded theory approach to analyze the transcribed data. First, we readthrough the transcribed interviews to identify possible explanations about the significance ofstudent involvement at each of the four institutions (open coding). Second, we made sense ofhow the open-codes fit across the four institutions by grouping chunks of data that were related(axial coding). Next, we looked for emergent themes from the axial codes. Discrepant evidencewas noted whenever students at the same or different institutions articulated disparateexperiences. Finally, we constructed categories of patterns within our sample of four institutions.Preliminary Findings Although analysis is ongoing, preliminary findings suggest that certain types ofinvolvement, as well as the quantity of experiences, influence how students discuss ethics andhow students make ethical decisions. For instance, when students at three of the schools in oursample described ethical development, they championed their involvement as complementingwhat they learned in the formal curriculum. These dialogues on engineering ethics weredrastically different for students who attended an institution in which involvement in co-curricular and extracurricular experiences were scarce and not emphasized by faculty andadministrators. We will further explore these findings and provide implications for faculty andadministrators intending to influence students’ ethical development through co-curricular andextracurricular experiences.
Burt, B. A., & Carpenter, D. D., & Finelli, C. J., & Harding, T. S., & Sutkus, J. A., & Holsapple, M., & Bielby, R. M., & Ra, E. (2011, June), Outcomes of Engaging Engineering Undergraduates in Co-Curricular Experiences Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18498
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