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Work in Progress: Let's Talk About Ethics! A Qualitative Analysis of First-year Engineering Student Group Discussions Around Ethical Scenarios

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Understanding Students' Authentic and Reflective Experiences of Ethics Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count

6

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/38177

Download Count

8

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Paper Authors

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Landon Bassett University of Connecticut

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Landon Bassett is a graduate student at the University of Connecticut who focuses primarily on undergraduate engineering ethics and process safety

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Jennifer Pascal University of Connecticut

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Jennifer Pascal is an Assistant Professor in Residence at the University of Connecticut. She earned her PhD from Tennessee Technological University in 2011 and was then an NIH Academic Science Education and Research Training (ASERT) Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New Mexico. Her research interests include the integration of fine arts and engineering and developing effective methods to teach transport phenomena.

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Richard Tyler Cimino New Jersey Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4171-4133

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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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Kevin D. Dahm Rowan University

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Kevin Dahm is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University. He earned his BS from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (92) and his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (98). He has published two books, "Fundamentals of Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics" and "Interpreting Diffuse Reflectance and Transmittance." He has also published papers on effective use of simulation in engineering, teaching design and engineering economics, and assessment of student learning.

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Daniel D. Burkey University of Connecticut

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Daniel Burkey is the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Lehigh University in 1998, and his M.S.C.E.P and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 and 2003, respectively. His primary areas of interest are game-based education, engineering ethics, and process safety education.

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Scott 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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Abstract

Over the past decade, there has been a renewed interest in the scope and practice of ethics education in engineering curricula, especially in the first year. However, the form this education takes has varied considerably with each program. Active learning strategies such as discussions on ethical and societal issues have become increasingly common for assessing how students make ethical decisions. But probing the depths of the reasoning behind their decisions and how students discuss ethics in context with their peers has been under-studied and difficult. Furthermore, if first-year programs wish to implement effective instructional interventions aimed at improving ethical decision making skills, pre-assessment of student thought processes is required. This full research paper offers findings from the first phase of a multi-university research project, aimed at investigating the impact game-based instruction can have on the development of engineering students’ ethical awareness and decision making. Specifically, the research presented in this paper is guided by the following research question: How do engineering students reason through engineering-ethical scenarios prior to college-level ethics education?

First-year engineering students across three universities in the northeast USA will participate in group discussions around engineering ethical scenarios derived from the Engineering Ethics Reasoning Instrument (EERI) and Toxic Workplaces: A Cooperative Ethics Card Game (developed by the researchers). The questions posed to the student groups center around primary morality concepts such as integrity, conflicting obligations, and the contextual nature of ethical decision making. An a priori coding schema based on these concepts will be utilized, along with an inductive thematic analysis to tease out emergent themes.

Results from this research will provide insight into how first-year engineering students think and discuss ethics prior to formal instruction, which can inform curricular design and development strategy. The research also provides a curated series of ethical engineering scenarios with accompanying discussion questions that can be adopted in any first-year classroom for instructional and evaluative purposes.

Bassett, L., & Pascal, J., & Cimino, R. T., & Dahm, K. D., & Burkey, D. D., & Streiner, S. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Let's Talk About Ethics! A Qualitative Analysis of First-year Engineering Student Group Discussions Around Ethical Scenarios Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://strategy.asee.org/38177

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