Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
The complexity of problems that engineers address requires knowledge, skills, and abilities that extend beyond technical engineering expertise, including teamwork and collaboration, problem-solving, curiosity and lifelong learning, cultural awareness, and ethical decision-making. How do we prepare engineering students to develop these essential capacities? One promising approach is to integrate character education into the undergraduate curriculum. Using an established and commonly used taxonomy advanced by the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, this paper explores the extent to which virtues are already incorporated into engineering education. Four prominent virtues in undergraduate engineering education are detailed in this paper: (1) critical thinking (an intellectual virtue), (2) empathy (a moral virtue), (3) service (a civic virtue), and (4) teamwork (a performance virtue). By conducting a literature review of these four virtues, we gain insight into how engineering educators already infuse virtues into engineering education and identify the gaps and opportunities that exist to enrich undergraduate engineering education through a virtue framework. Although virtues are part of engineering education, our findings reveal that most engineering educators do not explicitly describe these concepts as “virtues” and tend to treat them instead as “skills.” While virtues and skills are developed in similar ways, we identify four distinctions that reveal the added benefits of recasting and cultivating these capacities as virtues: 1) virtues, unlike skills alone, are necessarily ordered to morally good ends, 2) virtues have a motivational component that skills often lack, 3) virtues involve evaluating and addressing potential conflicts among values, and 4) virtues are interconnected and mutually reinforcing in ways that skills often are not. These conceptual distinctions have practical implications for undergraduate engineering education, enabling educators to draw on the pedagogical literature in character education to help students consider their values and develop the most relevant virtues across a four-year curriculum. This more comprehensive and holistic approach empowers students and future engineers to better navigate the complexity of real-world ethical decision-making and develop the virtues needed to serve the greater good.
Koehler, J., & Pierrakos, O., & Lamb, M., & Demaske, A., & Santos, C., & Gross, M. D., & Brown, D. F. (2020, June), What Can We Learn from Character Education? A Literature Review of Four Prominent Virtues in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35497
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