New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
The work of professional engineers is socio-technical, in that the technical solutions they produce have deep short and long-term impact on the social, political, and economic fabric of society at small and large geopolitical scales (Bucciarelli, 2008). As such, in most real-world engineering problems, stakeholder ... s in any specific issue come from a huge variety of spheres representing, for example, business, government, policy, public and labor interests. Engineers often need to work with these different stakeholders in teams that are themselves inter-disciplinary. To create solutions that attend to welfare of the public and the different stakeholder interests in an ethical manner it is important that professional engineers be able to understand, empathize with, and represent multiple perspectives in the context of a specific issue (Brown & Wyatt, 2010). But changing perspectives, to look at a topic from some other actor’s viewpoint can be challenging, especially if the viewpoints are in conflict, represent different interests, or draw on experiences situated in very different economic or political realities. So it is important to create models of how current and future engineers engage in perspective-taking in socio-technical contexts. This has been an underexplored topic in engineering education research. Drawing on King and Kitchener’s reflective judgment model (2004), Ziedler et al. (2009) characterize how engineering students in clinical interviews argue when presented with multiple perspectives on a specific issue such as alcoholism. Adams’ matrix of informed design characterizes how trajectories of expertise in design might be aligned with greater ability at taking multiple stakeholders into account. We aim to build on this work, by characterizing how future professional engineers negotiate multiple perspectives in the context of a socio-technical issue in a group-discussion setting over multiple days of discussion. Our data comes from video records of a cohort of 6 engineering students (seniors and graduate students) discussing the impact of introducing waste-management technologies in India under the Kyoto Protocol. The students met for 4 focus group sessions of 1.5 hours each. We draw on the notions of narrative analysis (Wortham, 2000) and footing shifts (Goffman, 1974) to attend to (i) how the different perspectives students are taking on position the stakeholders in different relationships with respect to each other and draw on broader socio-political ideologies, influencing how they evaluate the ethics in that specific situation and (ii) the interactional dynamics of the shifts in perspectives that are taken up by the students. Thus we aim to characterize empirically what it means to take on a perspective in discourse as well as the dynamics of how perspectives (and associated ideologies) are taken up and/or contested in the unfolding conversation. Through this we aim to build richer accounts of perspective taking in engineering ethics discussions and inform the design of learning environments for engineering ethics education.
Gupta, A., & Elby, A., & Turpen, C. A., & Philip, T. M. (2016, June), The Dynamics of Perspective-taking in Discussions on Socio-technical Issues Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26129
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