Asee peer logo

The Creation of Tools for Assessing Ethical Awareness in Diverse Multi-Disciplinary Programs

Download Paper |


2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Issues Part One

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1436.1 - 22.1436.17



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Craig Titus Purdue University


Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

visit author page

Carla B. Zoltowski, Ph.D., is Education Administrator of the EPICS Program at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue University. She has served as a lecturer in Purdue’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

visit author page


Margaret Huyck Illinois Institute of Technology

visit author page

Professor Emeritus; life-span developmental psychologist; principle investigator for NSF-funded project involving four programs developing measures for ethical awareness and teamwork.

visit author page


William C. Oakes Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

visit author page

William Oakes is the Director of the EPICS Program at Purdue University, one of the founding faculty members of the School of Engineering Education and a courtesy faculty member in Mechanical Engineering and Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. He is an fellow of the ASEE and NSPE. .He was the first engineer to win the Campus Compact Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning. He was a co-recipient of the 2005 National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education for his work in EPICS.

visit author page

author page

Jill L. May Illinois Institute of Technology

Download Paper |


Assessing Ethical Awareness and Best Educational Practices In Diverse Multi-disciplinary ProgramsAssessing how well undergraduate students recognize and reason through the ethical problems intheir own work is a significant challenge. Not all practices are equal, so having a measurementprocess is necessary in order to identify which educational practices most effectively increasestudents’ awareness of professional ethical issues and help them think about those issues in amore robust and sophisticated manner. In this paper we will report our progress in developingmeasures for use in four diverse, multi-disciplinary, team-based undergraduate programs.Our current research has produced three measures. One product is a scenario-based moraldecision-making measure based on real dilemmas encountered by students in their project work.This measure asks students to indicate which aspects of the dilemmas they prioritize as theydecide how to resolve the dilemma. The method is modeled on validated instruments designedfor other contexts and on significant theories of moral development. We have altered thesetheories somewhat to be more inclusive of diversity. This measure has been tested across ourfour sites and with hundreds of students.We also have an ethical-climate measure that we adapted from one validated in business to usewith undergraduate teams. This measure asks students to self-report their perceptions of theethical behavior of their teammates. Finally, we have developed a taxonomy of ethicalcomprehension that can be used as a rubric for assessing ethical reflection essays. Our goal forall measures is to demonstrate both reliability and validity by utilizing accepted psychometricstrategies.Our four institutions use various pedagogical strategies to enhance ethical awareness and moralreasoning. Some of the programs have specific class and lecture modules. One has some studentswho participate in an Ethics Bowl, in which students on two teams debate given ethicaldilemmas. Some programs have had students doing reflective writing on questions about theethical issues encountered by their teams. These different strategies provide the conditions inwhich we will assess the outcomes of the measures developed by our multi-disciplinary, multi-institution research team. This is a quasi-experimental design paradigm and providesopportunities to measure the outcomes associated with varied instructional designs and studentexperiences.This research has been funded by NSF under a CCLI Phase 2 grant.

Titus, C., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Huyck, M., & Oakes, W. C., & May, J. L. (2011, June), The Creation of Tools for Assessing Ethical Awareness in Diverse Multi-Disciplinary Programs Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18600

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: © 2011 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