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Work in Progress: Assessment of Ethics Interventions in a First-Year Engineering Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Division Technical Session - Ethics in the First Year

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

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Paper Authors


Richard T Cimino Rowan University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Richard T. Cimino is a Senior Lecturer in the Otto H. York Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D in Chemical & Biochemical Engineering from the Rutgers University, with a focus in adsorption science and the characterization of porous materials. His research interests include engineering ethics and process safety, and broadening inclusivity in engineering, especially among the LGBTQ+ community. His previous funded research has explored the effects of implicit bias on ethical decision making in the engineering classroom.

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Scott Duplicate Streiner Rowan University

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Dr. Scott Streiner is an assistant professor in the Experiential Engineering Education Department (ExEEd) at Rowan University. He received his Ph.D in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, with a focus in engineering education. His research interests include engineering global competency, curricula and assessment; pedagogical innovations through game-based and playful learning; spatial skills development and engineering ethics education. His funded research explores the nature of global competency development by assessing how international experiences improve the global perspectives of engineering students. Dr. Streiner has published papers and given presentations in global engineering education at several national conferences. Scott is an active member in the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) both locally and nationally, as well as the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE).

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Over the past several decades professional societies (i.e., ASEE) and accreditation boards (i.e., ABET) have increasingly required engineering programs to provide students with education about professional and engineering ethics. As a result, significant progress has been made at higher education institutions across the US in researching and implementing ethics educational interventions. However, there remains a fundamental question of how to best assess the effectiveness of these educational interventions. While numerous quantitative and qualitative measures currently exist, they are often done exclusively post-intervention. Engineering programs typically do not assess the development of students’ ethical reasoning prior to engaging in the aforementioned interventions or over the course of a semester.

The purpose of this work-in-progress study is to provide a preliminary framework for assessing the effectiveness of ethics interventions on the ethical reasoning of first year engineering students. We will examine how the ethical reasoning of first-year students changes over the course of their first-year curriculum when exposed to a specific set of engineering ethics interventions. The ethics interventions consist of several educational modules to teach ethical reasoning strategies within the context of a first year engineering course. These modular activities include materials borrowed from the literature such as a ‘Cards Against Engineering Ethics’ game as well as interventions developed at the institution, such as ethics case study assignments and a gamified learning platform.

The ability of first year engineering students to perform ethical reasoning will be assessed using a mixed-methods approach. This approach will involve the use of two related quantitative instruments - the Defining Issues Test (DIT-2) and the Engineering Ethical Reasoning Instrument (EERI), as well as a think-aloud study. The quantitative instruments, which are designed to assess reasoning via the Kohlbergian model of moral development, will be implemented in a pre-post model with instructional interventions taking place between the assessment. The think-aloud study will be conducted on a subset of the students to further investigate their reasoning processes, and will be analyzed by provisional coding using the informal reasoning model of Sadler and Zeidler. The goal of this study is to develop a practical and effective method for engineering programs to assess the impact of their ethics educational practices, and to demonstrate how these interventions can improve the ethical reasoning skills of their students.

Cimino, R. T., & Streiner, S. D. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Assessment of Ethics Interventions in a First-Year Engineering Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33596

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