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- Frontiers in Education
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- National Science Foundation
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This Work-In-Progress paper seeks to continue the development of a framework with which to organize engineering ethics instructional approaches. We build on a recent coding framework that was developed as part of a systematic review of US post-secondary engineering ethics education literature. We apply and iterate on the framework by analyzing the 2016 National Academy of Engineering report, “Infusing Ethics into the Development of Engineers: Exemplary Education Activities and Programs,” which includes two-page synopses of 25 exemplary ethics programs. By applying the framework to these exemplars, we aim to identify prominent instructional approaches utilized across NAE exemplars and the extent to which NAE exemplars’ instructional approaches differ from those identified in the prior systematic review. This WIP has three preliminary outcomes: (1) identification of trends in instructional design approaches across the NAE exemplars, (2) comparison of the instructional design approaches of NAE exemplars with the prior systematic review, and (3) identification of next steps needed to develop a more holistic picture of how ethics is taught in US post-secondary engineering contexts. Example revisions to the coding framework involved combining community-engagement and real-world exposure, broadening micro-insertion to sociotechnical integration, and coding for explicit mentoring components of instruction. A future research step involves further specification of these codes to detail how the NAE exemplars applied select instructional approaches, including heuristics, ethical theories, and case studies, and real-world engagement.more » « less
Traditional engineering courses typically approach teaching and problem solving by focusing on the physical dimensions of those problems without consideration of dynamic social and ethical dimensions. As such, projects can fail to consider community questions and concerns, broader impacts upon society, or otherwise result in inequitable outcomes. And, despite the fact that students in engineering receive training on the Professional Code of Ethics for Engineers, to which they are expected to adhere in practice, many students are unable to recognize and analyze real-life ethical challenges as they arise. Indeed, research has found that students are typically less engaged with ethics—defined as the awareness and judgment of microethics and macroethics, sensitivity to diversity, and interest in promoting organizational ethical culture—at the end of their engineering studies than they were at the beginning. As such, many studies have focused on developing and improving the curriculum surrounding ethics through, for instance, exposing students to ethics case studies. However, such ethics courses often present a narrow and simplified view of ethics that students may struggle to integrate with their broader experience as engineers. Thus, there is a critical need to unpack the complexity of ethical behavior amongst engineering students in order to determine how to better foster ethical judgment and behavior. Promoting ethical behavior among engineering students and developing a culture of ethical behavior within institutions have become goals of many engineering programs. Towards this goal, we present an overview of the current scholarship of engineering ethics and propose a theoretical framework of ethical behavior using a review of articles related to engineering ethics from 1990-2020. These articles were selected based upon their diversity of scope and methods until saturation was reached. A thematic analysis of articles was then performed using Nvivo. The review engages in theories across disciplines including philosophy, education and psychology. Preliminary results identify two major kinds of drivers of ethical behavior, namely individual level ethical behavior drivers (awareness of microethics, awareness of macroethics, implicit understanding, and explicit understanding) and institutional drivers (diversity and institutional ethical culture). In this paper, we present an overview and discussion of two drivers of ethical behavior at the individual level, namely awareness of microethics and awareness of macroethics, based on a review of 50 articles. Our results indicate that an awareness of both microethics and macroethics is essential in promoting ethical behavior amongst students. The review also points to a need to focus on increasing students’ awareness of macroethics. This research thus addresses the need, driven by existing scholarship, to identify a conceptual framework for explaining how ethical judgment and behavior in engineering can be further promoted.more » « less
null (Ed.)Ethics and social responsibility have frequently been identified as important areas of practice for professional engineers. Thus, measuring engineering ethics and social responsibility is critical to assessing the abilities of engineering students, understanding how those abilities change over time, and exploring the impacts of certain ethical interventions, such as coursework or participation in extracurricular activities. However, measurement of these constructs is difficult, as they are complex and multi-faceted. Much prior research has been carried out to develop and assess ethical interventions in engineering education, but the findings have been mixed, in part because of these measurement challenges. To address this variation in prior work, we have designed and carried out a five year, longitudinal, mixed-methods study to explore students’ perceptions of ethics and social responsibility. This study relies on both repeated use of quantitative measures related to ethics and repeated qualitative interviews to explore how students’ perceptions of these issues change across time, between institutions, and in response to participation in certain experiences. This paper focuses on the thematic analysis and preliminary results of the 33 pairs of interviews that were gathered from participants at three different universities in Year 1 and Year 4 of their undergraduate studies. Given the multifaceted and complex nature of ethics, measuring and assessing how students’ perceive its various aspects (e.g. those related to ethical climate, moral awareness, moral disengagement etc.) has proven challenging. Furthermore, investigating how students’ perceptions of these concepts vary over time adds another layer of complexity for analyzing our longitudinal data. For example, a student might show increased understanding in one aspect of ethics over time and consistency in another, making it difficult to identify patterns or the impacts of specific influences. Due to this large variation in student experiences and perspectives, we used single case analysis to analyze the longitudinal interviews of a single participant, Corvin. From this analysis, three themes emerged in the student's responses: a shift in his views of engineering ethics and social responsibility from idealism to pragmatism; an adjustment in how he thinks engineers should balance their responsibilities to the public and to their employers; and the characteristics he identifies for ethical engineers. This paper will be beneficial for engineering educators and researchers who are interested in measuring and developing ethical capabilities among engineering students.more » « less
Engineers are often expected to span organizational, cultural, stakeholder, geographic, temporal, and other boundaries. Yet, few studies on boundary spanning have appeared in the engineering education literature, suggesting the need for improved theoretical and conceptual foundations to guide empirical studies of boundary spanning in engineering.
To develop a more comprehensive understanding of boundary spanning, this study addresses five research questions: (a) What types of boundaries have been identified as topics of interest? (b) How are boundary spanners and boundary spanning defined? (c) What types of activities and behaviors comprise or have been linked to boundary spanning? (d) What individual competencies and characteristics have been proposed or studied as important for boundary spanning? and (e) What boundary spanning themes are most prominent in studies of engineers and other technical professionals?
Using a qualitative systematic review process, we identified and analyzed 72 scholarly papers from multiple disciplines. Multiple reviewers coded each paper using a hybrid deductive‐inductive content analysis process to identify key themes related to boundary spanning.
The analysis resulted in a framework consisting of six boundary types, three types of roles and definitions, and five types of activities. Discussion of boundary spanning competencies was limited in the collected works, and only seven papers exclusively focused on engineers. We conclude by proposing boundary spanning as an important meta‐attribute for engineers and a promising lens for investigating engineering practice. We also relate our findings to the engineering education literature and suggest directions for future research.
As the need for interdisciplinary collaboration increases, industry needs engineers who are not only affluent in technical engineering skills but also efficient in skills such as communication, problem-solving, engineering ethics, and business management. As a result, engineering programs are tasked with providing students with sufficient opportunities to develop non-technical professional skills to better prepare them for the workforce. Previous research has focused on exploring how and where students tend to develop profession skills and assessments have been established to measure the level of professional skills. However, without a means to measure whether students are getting sufficient opportunities for development, it is hard for educators and engineering programs to determine whether or where scaffolding are needed. We developed an instrument to assess undergraduate engineering students’ opportunities for professional skill development. To increase content validity, we conducted 20 think-aloud interviews with students from a large Midwestern university. The aim of this WIP is two-fold. We present the preliminary results of the think-aloud interview to determine what changes need to be made to existing items and what emerging themes appear regarding to participants’ professional skill development opportunities. After thematic analysis of the interview transcripts, we revised 10 items by simplifying the grammar or altering certain words that tend to confuse participants or carry negative connotations. We found that, compared to students who have only been involved in class projects, those with co-curricular experiences tend to report more opportunities in skills related to business management principles and problem-solving skills. Co-curricular activities were also the most referenced in building communication skills. Our next step will be piloting the instrument across multiple institutions and conducting validation analysis.more » « less