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Using the Boeing Max Air Disaster as A Role-play Scenario for Teaching Ethical Thinking

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Innovative, Engaging Pedagogies for Engineering Ethics Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Ashish Hingle George Mason University

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Ashish Hingle (he/his/him) is a Ph.D. student in the College of Engineering & Computing at George Mason University. His research interests include engineering ethics, information systems, and student efficacy challenges in higher education. Ashish graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems and a Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security from Cal Poly Pomona, California.

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Aditya Johri George Mason University Orcid 16x16

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Aditya Johri is Professor in the department of Information Sciences & Technology. Dr. Johri studies the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for learning and knowledge sharing, with a focus on cognition in informal environments. He also examine the role of ICT in supporting distributed work among globally dispersed workers and in furthering social development in emerging economies. He received the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Early Career Award in 2009. He is co-editor of the Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (CHEER) published by Cambridge University Press, New York, NY. Dr. Johri earned his Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design at Stanford University and a B.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at Delhi College of Engineering.

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Huzefa Rangwala


Alexander Monea George Mason University

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Alexander Monea is an Assistant Professor in the English Department and Cultural Studies Program at George Mason University. His research focuses on data ethics and the cultural impact of computation. He also serves as an Area Editor on Ethics, Equity, and Trust at the journal Data & Policy.

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Algorithms are a central component of most services we use across a range of domains. These services, platforms, and devices rely on computing and technology professionals – who work as data scientists, programmers, or artificial intelligence (AI) experts – to meet their intended goals. How do we train future professionals to have an ethical mindset in their understanding, design, and implementation of algorithms? This was the question that prompted the use of a role-playing case study, which we designed, implemented, and studied in an undergraduate engineering course. We used the Boeing Max 8 flight disaster as the scenario for this case study as it encapsulates how a software algorithm shapes decision-making in a complex scenario. Theoretically, our work is guided by the situated learning paradigm, specifically the need to learn perspectival thinking for decision-making. The ability to make ethical decisions relies to a large extent on the ability of the decision-maker to take context into account – to understand not just the immediate technical need of the work but also larger implications that might even result from unanticipated consequences. Findings from the evaluation of the role-play scenario show that students reported a higher engagement with case study material and a better understanding of the scenario due to taking on a specific role related to the scenario. Analysis of pre-and post-discussion assignments shows a shift in their perspective of the case, further supporting the overall goal of developing a more situated understanding of ethical decision-making.

Hingle, A., & Johri, A., & Rangwala, H., & Monea, A. (2021, July), Using the Boeing Max Air Disaster as A Role-play Scenario for Teaching Ethical Thinking Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38001

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