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Understanding the Communicative and Social Processes of Engineering Ethics in Diverse Design Teams

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

13

Page Numbers

26.1624.1 - 26.1624.13

DOI

10.18260/p.24960

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/24960

Download Count

48

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Paper Authors

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Carla B. Zoltowski, Ph.D., is Co-Director 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. Dr. Zoltowski’s academic and research interests include human-centered design learning and assessment, service-learning, ethical reasoning development and assessment, leadership, and assistive technology.

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Patrice Marie Buzzanell Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Patrice M. Buzzanell is a Professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication and the School of Engineering Education (courtesy) at Purdue University. Editor of three books and author of over 150 articles and chapters, her research centers on the intersections of career, gender communication, leadership, and resilience. Fellow and past president of the International Communication Association, she has received numerous awards for her research, teaching/mentoring, and engagement. She is working on Purdue-ADVANCE initiatives for institutional change, the Transforming Lives Building Global Communities (TLBGC) team in Ghana through EPICS, 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: buzzanel@purdue.edu]

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William C. Oakes Purdue University, West Lafayette

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William (Bill) Oakes is the Director of the EPICS Program and one of the founding faculty members of the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has held courtesy appointments in Mechanical, Environmental and Ecological Engineering as well as Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. He is a registered professional engineer and on the NSPE board for Professional Engineers in Higher Education. He has been active in ASEE serving in the FPD, CIP and ERM. He is the past chair of the IN/IL section. He is a fellow of the Teaching Academy and listed in the Book of Great Teachers at Purdue University./ He was the first engineering faculty member to receive the national Campus Compact Thomas Ehrlich Faculty Award for Service-Learning. He was a co-recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education and the recipient of the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Educational Excellence Award and the ASEE Chester Carlson Award. He is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

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Megan Kenny Feister Purdue University

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Megan 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 mixed methods. Her research focuses on engineering education, design, organizational identity, identification and socialization, team communication, innovation, and technology. She is currently working on an NSF grant examining ethical reasoning and decision-making in engineering project teams, and examining the relationship between teams and individuals in engineering design from a social constructionist and social network perspective.

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David Torres Purdue University

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David is a first year doctoral student 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, organizational ethics, social network analysis, identity and identification, and leadership development.

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Abstract

Understanding the Communicative and Social Processes of Engineering Ethics in Diverse Design Teams As engineering, and specifically engineering design, is increasingly understood to be asocial activity, engineering education’s understanding of ethics needs to reflect this developingawareness. Within engineering and design teams, engineering educators are concerned not onlywith how individual students develop ethically, but also how everyday ethical decision-makingemerges during team interactions and becomes integrated in design solutions. The everydayethics approach calls on engineering educators and students to pay closer attention to the natureof design, how values are embedded in design through micro decision-making processes, andhow these values are reintegrated into the everyday life of end users. Furthermore, these ethicaldecisions often do not present themselves as traditional dilemmas, but are issues that areconfronted in the everyday process of design, and are influenced by the cultural and disciplinarybackgrounds of the members and the ethical climates of the team and the organization. In considering engineering ethics education in this context, we can draw from theextensive scholarship of group communication. This body of literature suggests that teammember interactions and communication have a major impact on a team’s decision-makingabilities, as well as the information that is discussed during the problem-solving process (Larson,2007; Postmes, Spears & Cihangir, 2001; Reimer, Reimer, & Czienskowski, 2010). Therefore,this project seeks to understand how everyday ethical decision-making is integrated in theprocesses and interactions of diverse engineering design team and their recognition of the long-term design consequences of the solutions they produce. To do so, this study combines social network analysis with structuration theory toexamine the structure of project teams while also examining the institutional and contextualfactors that contribute to team climate, and to the development of group norms that affect teaminteractions. Social network analysis (SNA) is a type of analysis that enables researchers toexamine the relationships among members of a given system or group. In contrast to the“organizational chart” that might show how communication is supposed to flow within theorganization, network analysis shows the actual communication and relationships that emergewithin the organization or team. Structuration accounts for the influence of institutional factorssuch as rules or norms of what is “acceptable” or “appropriate” behavior within a specific socialcontext, while also affording the actors within that context agency to enact influence on thosestructural influences. Primary data sources include a series of interviews and videotapedparticipatory observations, as well as the social network analysis survey. In the first few months of the project, we have purposefully selected four diverse projectteams within a service-learning design program at a Midwestern university. Researchers haveconducted observations of the team, and have piloted the social network analysis survey andinterview. The survey and interviews will be conducted for the four project teams within thenext three months. In the paper, we describe the study frameworks and methods, preliminaryresults from the pilot, and how the pilot informed the study design.

Zoltowski, C. B., & Buzzanell, P. M., & Oakes, W. C., & Kenny Feister, M., & Torres, D. (2015, June), Understanding the Communicative and Social Processes of Engineering Ethics in Diverse Design Teams Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24960

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