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Understanding Ethical Reasoning in Design Through the Lens of Reflexive Principlism

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Technical Session 3

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/31175

Download Count

36

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Paper Authors

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Danielle Corple Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Danielle Corple is a Ph.D. student in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. She studies organizational communication as well as qualitative and computational research methods. Her specific research interests are gender, organizing, and ethics in online and offline contexts.

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David H. Torres Purdue University, West Lafayette

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David is a fourth year doctoral candidate in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University pursuing a PhD in Organizational Communication with a minor in data analysis and research methodology. His research interests reside at the intersection of organizational communication, identity, design, and organizational ethics.

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Carla B. Zoltowski is an assistant professor of engineering practice in the Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue. Prior to this she was Co-Director of the EPICS Program at Purdue where she was responsible for developing curriculum and assessment tools and overseeing the research efforts within EPICS. Her academic and research interests include the professional formation of engineers, diversity and inclusion in engineering, human-centered design, engineering ethics, leadership, service-learning, and accessibility and assistive-technology.

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Katharine E. Miller

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Katharine E. Miller is a second-year doctoral student studying Organizational Communication and Public Relations at Purdue University, with minors in corporate social responsibility and research methods.

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Megan Kenny Feister California State University, Channel Islands

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Megan Kenny Feister is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Communication at California State University Channel Islands. She previously held a postdoctoral research position working on her grant funded research in Engineering Projects in Community Service at Purdue University. She is a recipient of the Purdue Research Foundation dissertation grant and co-wrote a National Science Foundation grant for her dissertation and postdoctoral work in Organizational Communication at Purdue. Her primary research interests include collaboration and innovation; negotiations of expertise in team-based organizational work; team processes and decision-making; ethical reasoning, constitution, and processes; engineering design; technology and its impacts on organizational and personal life; network analysis; as well as organizational identity, identification, and culture.

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Patrice Marie Buzzanell University of South Florida

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Patrice M. Buzzanell is Chair and Professor of the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida. A Fellow of the International Communication Association (ICA), she has served as President of ICA, the Council of Communication Associations (CCA), and the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language and Gender (OSCLG). She became a Distinguished Scholar of the National Communication Association (NCA) in 2017. Her research focuses on career, work-life policy, resilience, gender, and engineering design in micro-macro contexts. She has published: 4 edited books; 200 journal articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries; and numerous engineering education and other proceedings. She has edited Management Communication Quarterly (MCQ) and forums or special issues for several journals. She has served on 25 editorial boards (17 current) and on advisory boards for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia, Sage Open, and MCQ. Her NSF grants focus on engineering ethics scales and processes as well as design thinking for the professional formation of engineers. Among her awards and honors, she recently received ICA’s B. Aubrey Fisher Mentorship Award and the Provost Outstanding Mentor Award at Purdue, where she was University Distinguished Professor and Endowed Chair and Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence. Currently she is working on Purdue NSF ADVANCE institutional change, global & local EPICS design teams, and individual engineering ethical development and team ethical climate scales as well as everyday negotiations of ethics in design through NSF funding as Co-PI. [Email: pmbuzzanell@usf.edu & buzzanel@purdue.edu]

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Abstract

This study examines student designers’ descriptions of ethical decision-making in design work, charting how their ethical reasoning shifts throughout the course of the design process. Additionally, this project extends the utility of reflexive principlism (Beever & Brightman, 2016) as a data analytical device. Reflexive principlism “is an approach to ethical decision-making that focuses on internalizing a reflective and iterative process of specification, balancing, and justification of four core ethical principles in the context of specific cases” (Beever & Brightman, 2016, p. 275). Rather than using reflexive principlism as a prescriptive device for developing ethical reasoning in engineer students, we apply the core tenets of reflexive principlism as an analytical tool to explicate ethical reasoning in design.

Participants for this study included students enrolled in a curricular, service-learning student design program. We conducted semi-structured interviews with students of four design classes across three semesters, resulting in 103 total interviews. In order to capture a range of respondents who participated for multiple semesters in one project, we sampled 13 students and their 30 interviews from this larger dataset.

Using reflexive principlism, we trace how students’ ethical reasoning shifts throughout the design stages of problem identification, specification development, conceptual design, detailed design, and delivery. The findings also indicate that students who engage more directly with end users also engage in more ethical reflexivity. Given engineering educators’ interest in developing ethically competent future engineers, this project provides description of how students engage in these processes as well as direction for engineering educators seeking to cultivate critical ethical reasoning skills among their undergraduate students.

Corple, D., & Torres, D. H., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Miller, K. E., & Kenny Feister, M., & Buzzanell, P. M. (2018, June), Understanding Ethical Reasoning in Design Through the Lens of Reflexive Principlism Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31175

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