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Scholars and public figures have called for improved ethics and social responsibility education in computer science degree programs in order to better address consequential technological issues in society. Indeed, rising public concern about computing technologies arguably represents an existential threat to the credibility of the computing profession itself. Despite these increasing calls, relatively little is known about the ethical development and beliefs of computer science students, especially compared to other science and engineering students. Gaps in scholarly research make it difficult to effectively design and evaluate ethics education interventions in computer science. Therefore, there is a pressing need for additional empirical study regarding the development of ethical attitudes in computer science students. Influenced by the Professional Social Responsibility Development Model, this study explores personal and professional social responsibility attitudes among undergraduate computing students. Using survey results from a sample of 982 students (including 184 computing majors) who graduated from a large engineering institution between 2017 and 2021, we compare social responsibility attitudes cross-sectionally among computer science students, engineering students, other STEM students, and non-STEM students. Study findings indicate computer science students have statistically significantly lower social responsibility attitudes than their peers in other science and engineering disciplines. In light of growing ethical concerns about the computing profession, this study provides evidence about extant challenges in computing education and buttresses calls for more effective development of social responsibility in computing students. We discuss implications for undergraduate computing programs, ethics education, and opportunities for future research.
Kreth, Q., & Schiff, D., & Lee, J., & Borenstein, J., & Zegura, E. (2022, August), Social responsibility attitudes among undergraduate computer science students: an empirical analysis Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41369
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