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Using Small Groups To Promote Active Learning And Student Satisfaction In A Required Engineering Ethics Course

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.618.1 - 3.618.7



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Paper Authors

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Roger Ware

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Charles F. Yokomoto

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3230

Using Small Groups to Promote Active Learning and Student Satisfaction in a Required Engineering Ethics Course

Charles F. Yokomoto, Roger Ware Electrical Engineering/Psychology Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis


A learning experience in professional ethics has become increasingly important for engineering majors for several reasons. Chief among them are (1) ABET EC-2000's learning outcome which states that engineering programs “must demonstrate that their graduates have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities,” (2) the trend of campuses to include some variation of ethics as a campus general education principle, and (3) the increasingly complexity of the working world which necessitates the inclusion of professional ethics in the curriculum. It is not surprising, then, that the call for engineering schools to offer ethics related courses has been sounded by Stephen H. Unger1 . He goes so far as to say, “Every engineering student should be required to take such a course in the freshman year. Engineering faculty should teach the courses so that students ill get the message that ethics are important.” Heinz C. Luegenbiehl2, Professor of Philosophy at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, says, “In the future it can be expected that ethics education will become even more central to engineering education, due in large part to the new standards being developed by ABET,” followed with “A further sign of the future emphasis on ethics is that the initial requirement for obtaining a professional engineering license, the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, will include a series of questions on ethics for the first time in 1997.”

In our course, learning is accomplished through classroom discussion, out-of-class discussion, library research, case studies, written assignments, oral presentations, an essay final examination, and a minimum of traditional lectures. Students meet once a week for sixty minutes in a sixteen-week semester, including a week for final exams. Students earn one credit hour, which is counted toward their general education requirements in the pre-ABET 2000 accreditation scheme. Under ABET 2000, the course will be used to assess outcomes in the areas of knowledge of contemporary issues, understanding the impact of engineering solutions in a global societal context, understanding of professional and ethical responsibility, and communicating effectively. The course outline is displayed in Appendix 1.

Course Goals

Based on faculty experiences with student apprehension for nontechnical courses, particularly those of the more esoteric variety such as philosophy, course goals were developed to facilitate student acceptance of a required course in applied engineering ethics and to counter commonly heard student opinions that “ethics and the determination of right from wrong are common sense issues and that students do not need to take an ethics.” In order to develop an effective course, the following course design goals were developed and used as guidelines.

Ware, R., & Yokomoto, C. F. (1998, June), Using Small Groups To Promote Active Learning And Student Satisfaction In A Required Engineering Ethics Course Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7512

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