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Service Learning: A Positive Approach To Teaching Engineering Ethics And Social Impact Of Engineering

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.544.1 - 5.544.5



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Paper Authors

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Michael S. Pritchard

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Edmund Tsang

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

Session 3630


Michael S. Pritchard and Edmund Tsang Western Michigan University/University of South Alabama


Engineering Criteria (EC) 2000, the new accreditation criteria of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), requires engineering programs to demonstrate, under Criterion 3 Program Outcomes, that their graduates have “an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility” and “the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global societal context.” Most literature on engineering ethics and, to a lesser degree, on societal aspects of technology, focuses on the negative of wrongdoing, its prevention, and appropriate sanctions of misconduct. This paper proposes a more positive approach to teaching engineering ethics and social impact of technology via service-learning by offering justifications for the pedagogy based on engineering codes of ethics. This paper examines reflection issues in engineering, without which the full benefit of the service- learning pedagogy cannot be realized. The paper concludes by offering suggestions on reflection course materials for three types of service-learning projects found commonly in engineering.

Service-learning is “a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development” [1]. These structured activities must provide opportunities for students to reflect on meaning and significance of the service-learning projects they have undertaken. It is also important that in doing so they take into consideration the perspectives of those for whom they have provided service.

While relatively new in engineering, service-learning is well established in the humanities and social science disciplines, and in disciplines where clinical experience forms part of student learning. Campus Compact, a national organization supported by university presidents who are committed to integrating community service into the undergraduate experience, found 11,000 courses with a service-learning component in its member institutions in a 1998 survey [2].

Pritchard, M. S., & Tsang, E. (2000, June), Service Learning: A Positive Approach To Teaching Engineering Ethics And Social Impact Of Engineering Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8693

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