New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
We describe a hands-on, team-based classroom activity designed to help engineering students understand the ethics of data collection, analysis and reporting processes. This lesson is presented to students as a “mini research competition” involving the collection of data to answer the question “what is the length of a toilet paper tube?”. The lesson is purposely structured to both provide opportunities for ethical behavior, and to offer temptations and rewards for cheating. The initial activity lasts 10 minutes, followed by a substantial discussion and debriefing, and the lesson concludes with several related case studies for discussion within student teams. Discussions about this lesson focus on several questions: What are the ethical issues involved in collecting, analyzing and reporting data? How do documentation and reporting processes impact the ethical conduct of research? How does working in a team impact data collection, and what responsibilities do individuals have in ensuring that the team’s activities and outputs meet ethics standards?
We also describe the evolution of this ethics lesson from an earlier classroom activity involving precision and accuracy in data measurement, which has been used in high school, college and continuing education settings for more than two decades. This paper describes the development of the curriculum; lessons learned from the classroom; and an analysis of student artifacts from the most recent offering as part of an engineering undergraduate research program at a major research university in the Midwestern United States. The lesson materials are provided in appendices, in order to allow other educators to adapt these materials for their own classrooms.
Luchini-Colbry, K., & Luchini, J. R. (2016, June), What is the Length of a Toilet Paper Tube? A Hands-On, Team-Based Lesson in the Ethics of Data Collection Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27194
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