August 23, 2022
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Engineering Ethics Division: Approaches to Ethics Education (Part 1)
A recent review of engineering ethics education found that current practices lead to shortcomings in emerging professionals across engineering disciplines. We have implemented a modular approach to engineering ethics, infusing character education throughout our curricula. While ethics education typically focuses on student decision-making during specific times of ethical dilemmas, character education focuses on the practice and acquisition of virtues that prepare students for those situations. Virtue ethics is the theoretical foundation of character education. Virtues of character are stable and enduring dispositions that enable us to think, feel, and act in morally good ways for morally good ends. Importantly, character virtues can be intentionally taught and developed by well-designed pedagogies. This serves two, simultaneous roles: (1) it allows students to reflect on- and develop their own character while (2) engaging in ethical discussions and decision-making. In this work in progress paper, we will describe the motivation for and integration of ethics into a senior-level Mobile Robotics course through weekly discussions, online discussion threads, and in-class discussions based on a weekly (student) discussion leader’s submission on an assigned topic. These topics were aimed to develop students' critical and ethical reasoning skills as well as character virtues such as creativity, intellectual humility, empathy, and practical wisdom. In this work, we will describe assignment independent rubrics for the assessment of student creativity and ethical reasoning. Students use the virtue framework in their ethical reasoning. This work in progress presents pilot data and analysis towards understanding how the module has affected student efficacy and performance in using the virtue framework as well as student perceptions of virtue in the AI profession.
Henslee, E., & Yeaman, A., & Wiinikka-Lydon, J. (2022, August), Virtue Ethics in Robotics: An ethics module to cultivate character and ethical reasoning Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41658
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