June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
It is important that engineering and computing students are educated to understand the ethical expectations of the profession and to consider the broader impacts of their work (termed ethics and societal issues, ESI). However, assessment methods related to these outcomes that rely on Likert-type responses or structured assignments may be susceptible to social desirability or positive response bias. When prompted, students will normally agree that ethics are important and can select the correct answer for simple ESI questions. But what do engineering and computing students quickly draw to mind in relation to ESI? To explore this, students were asked to respond to two open-ended survey questions: (1) How do you view your role in society as an engineer or computer scientist? (2) List the ethical issues that you think are relevant to engineers and/or computer scientists. It was of interest to determine if student responses would vary from the beginning to the end of a term or across 15 settings where instructors had integrated content and learning goals pertaining to ESI (ranging from first-year introductory courses to courses fully focused on ethics at different institutions and among different majors). Students’ open-ended responses were coded using a combination of a priori and emergent codes. Student responses regarding their role in society generally encompassed six theme areas (in order of decreasing prevalence): societal benefits, technology, sustainability, obligations, self, and responsibility to employer. In regards to relevant ethical issues, common themes included safety, environmental protection, and monetary trade-offs. Differences among the prevalence of particular themes across the courses may be due to differences in the interests and/or training in different majors. The very short responses from many students are somewhat troubling, given that all students should be able to readily answer these questions with more complex and detailed responses after having taken a course that included ethics content. This raises interesting issues around students’ feelings about the importance of these topics, and indicates that these questions may reflect on the affective domain (e.g. value) to an equal or greater extent than the cognitive domain (e.g. knowledge, reflected in the response to Q2).
Bielefeldt, A. R., & Zhao, D., & Kulich, A. D., & Polmear, M., & Canney, N. E., & Swan, C., & Knight, D. (2019, June), Student Views on their Role in Society as an Engineer and Relevant Ethical Issues Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33304
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