skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on May 18, 2024

Title: Co-designing Ethical Supports for Technology Practitioners
In an era of ubiquitous digital interfaces and systems, technology and design practitioners must address a range of ethical dilemmas surrounding the use of persuasive design techniques and how to balance shareholder and end-user needs [2], [5]. Similarly, the increasing user concerns about unethical products and services [1] is paralleling a rise in regulatory interests in enforcing ethical design and engineering practices among technology practitioners, surfacing a need for further support. Although various scholars have developed frameworks and methods to support practitioners in navigating these challenging contexts [3], [4], often, there is a lack of resonance between these generic methods and the situated ethical complexities facing the practitioner in their everyday work. In this project, we designed and implemented a three-hour cocreation workshop with designers, engineers, and technologists to support them to develop bespoke ethics-focused action plans that are resonant with the ethical challenges they face in their everyday practice. In developing the co-creation session, we sought to answer the following questions to empower practitioners: • How can we support practitioners in developing action plans to address ethical dilemmas in their everyday work? and • How can we empower designers to design more responsibly? Building on these questions as a guide, we employed Miro, a digital whiteboard platform, to develop the co-creation experience. The final c o-creation e xperience w as d esigned w ith the visual metaphor of a “house” with four floors and multiple rooms that allowed participants to complete different tasks per room, all aimed towards the overall goal of developing participants' own personalized action plan in an interactive and collaborative way. We invited participants to share their stories and ethical dilemmas to support their creation and iteration of a personal action plan that they could later use in their everyday work context. Across the six co-creation sessions we conducted, participants (n=26) gained a better understanding of the drivers for ethical action in the context of their everyday work and developed an action plan through the co-creation workshop that enabled them to constructively engage with ethical challenges in their professional context. At the end of the session, participants were provided the action plans they created to allow them to use it in their practice. Furthermore, the co-design workshops were designed such that practitioners could take them away (the house and session guide) and run them independently at their organization or another context to support their objectives. We describe the building and the activities conducted in each floor below and will provide a pictorial representation of the house with the different floors, rooms, and activities on the poster presentation. a) First floor-Welcome, Introduction, Reflection: The first floor of the virtual house was designed to allow participants to introduce themselves and to reflect on and discuss the ethical concerns they wished to resolve during the session. b) Second floor-Shopping for ethics-focused methods: The second floor of the virtual house was designed as a “shopping” space where participants selected from range of ethicsfocused building blocks that they wish to potentially adapt or incorporate into their own action plan. They were also allowed to introduce their own methods or tools. c) Third floor-DIY Workspace: The third floor was designed as a DIY workspace to allow the participants to work in small groups to develop their own bespoke action plan based on building blocks they have gathered from their shopping trip and by using any other components they wish. The goal here was to support participants in developing methods and action plans that were resonant with their situated ethical complexities. d) Fourth floor-Gallery Space: The fourth floor was designed as a gallery to allow participants to share and discuss their action plans with other participants and to identify how their action plans could impact their future practice or educational experiences. Participants were also provided an opportunity at this stage to reflect on their experience participating in the session and provide feedback on opportunities for future improvement.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1909714
NSF-PAR ID:
10429712
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
2023 IEEE International Symposium on Ethics in Engineering, Science, and Technology (ETHICS)
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1 to 1
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Involving the public in scientific discovery offers opportunities for engagement, learning, participation, and action. Since its launch in 2007, the CitSci.org platform has supported hundreds of community-driven citizen science projects involving thousands of participants who have generated close to a million scientific measurements around the world. Members using CitSci.org follow their curiosities and concerns to develop, lead, or simply participate in research projects. While professional scientists are trained to make ethical determinations related to the collection of, access to, and use of information, citizen scientists and practitioners may be less aware of such issues and more likely to become involved in ethical dilemmas. In this era of big and open data, where data sharing is encouraged and open science is promoted, privacy and openness considerations can often be overlooked. Platforms that support the collection, use, and sharing of data and personal information need to consider their responsibility to protect the rights to and ownership of data, the provision of protection options for data and members, and at the same time provide options for openness. This requires critically considering both intended and unintended consequences of the use of platforms, data, and volunteer information. Here, we use our journey developing CitSci.org to argue that incorporating customization into platforms through flexible design options for project managers shifts the decision-making from top-down to bottom-up and allows project design to be more responsive to goals. To protect both people and data, we developed—and continue to improve—options that support various levels of “open” and “closed” access permissions for data and membership participation. These options support diverse governance styles that are responsive to data uses, traditional and indigenous knowledge sensitivities, intellectual property rights, personally identifiable information concerns, volunteer preferences, and sensitive data protections. We present a typology for citizen science openness choices, their ethical considerations, and strategies that we are actively putting into practice to expand privacy options and governance models based on the unique needs of individual projects using our platform. 
    more » « less
  2. Murphy, B. (Ed.)
    A key form of scientific literacy is being able to leverage the knowledge, practices, and commitments of ethical science to everyday civic matters of social consequence. Learning how to engage in civic life in equity-focused ways needs to be intertwined with learning disciplinary—or transdisciplinary—knowledge and practices. In this article we discuss how an art-science learning program at Science Gallery Dublin in Ireland supported subsequent civic participation by adolescent youth. Using longitudinal case studies of young people, we document how they became agents of change in their homes, schools, and wider communities over several years after participating in the program. This work provides insight into how specific design features of informal learning environments help launch or expand the science-linked identities of youth interested in participation in civic life and social action. These cases also illustrate how to develop educational models that support young people to take informed action toward matters of community and environmental consequence, a key aspect of building a more sustainable and thriving future. 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    While formal coursework remains one of the most common strategies for developing ethics knowledge and competence among engineering students, ethical situations also surface in many other settings. In our own research on engineering student perceptions of ethics and social responsibility, we found that many engineering interns and co-ops reported encountering ethical issues or dilemmas in the workplace. To further illuminate such encounters, this paper aims to: 1) identify and describe real-world ethical issues encountered by engineering students in workplace settings, and 2) investigate what students learned from these experiences. We address these objectives by reporting select results from an ongoing qualitative analysis of 33 interviews with undergraduate students in their fourth year of college. We more specifically present a series of illustrative cases drawn from four of the interviews, selected because the participants described specific work situations in considerable detail and the cases represent a wide variety of ethical concerns. The purpose for sharing these cases is threefold. First, we note some specific lessons that our subjects learned (or failed to learn) through the selected cases. Second, we argue that the workplace is a particularly rich setting for learning about professional ethics. Third, we make recommendations for better scaffolding and supporting student learning in workplace settings. We expect this paper will be of particular interest to engineering ethics scholars studying where and how students learn about ethics, instructors looking for ways to enhance and extend ethics learning, and students preparing for internship, co-op, and/or full-time job roles. 
    more » « less
  4. Our research team is currently conducting an ethnographic investigation of a Science, Technology, and Society Living Learning Community (STS-LLC). Our investigation focuses on understanding how engineering students’ macro-ethical reasoning develops within the cultural practices of this community. Our approach to this investigation deliberately partners faculty research leads and a group of undergraduate research fellows (RFs) chosen based on their “insider” status within the STS-LLC cohort being investigated. This collaboration required building substantial infrastructure and routines for disrupting the usual hierarchies that exist between researchers and “participants.” This paper will share multiple perspectives, from both RFs and research leads, on the mutually beneficial relationships that emerged within this research collaboration. We will draw on research team meeting notes, research team meeting recordings, and formative feedback survey responses to support our claims. Research leads will share their perspectives on recruiting, onboarding and working with the RFs and describe some of the macro-ethical considerations that motivated their partnership with RFs. RFs will also describe the multiplicity of ways they have participated in and benefited from this research collaboration. This paper will share sociotechnical innovations that supported the development of effective co-learning and co-working processes. These innovations will be described both in terms of the activities, routines, and artifacts that structured our work and the purposes these activities served. Some innovations were constructed by the research leads in order to: (a) support collaboration and mutual engagement, (b) support engineering students in developing competence with ethnographic methods, (c) expand awareness of the engineering education research literature, (d) empower students to refine their own thinking about macroethics and the purpose of education, (e) recognize particular “knowledge-building” games within research activities, and (f) create space for students’ values and political agendas to shape the direction of the research. We will share some example innovations that were iteratively refined in dialogue with RFs and other example innovations that were developed through the process of coworking with RFs, such as GroupMe communication channels, multi-vocal field noting, and prompts for scaffolding reflections on classroom events. We will describe how the deliberate social and technical organization of this collaboration enabled particular forms of mutually beneficial relationships. 
    more » « less
  5. This Work-in-Progress paper investigates how students participating in a chemical engineering (ChE) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program conceptualize and make plans for research projects. The National Science Foundation has invested substantial financial resources in REU programs, which allow undergraduate students the opportunity to work with faculty in their labs and to conduct hands-on experiments. Prior research has shown that REU programs have an impact on students’ perceptions of their research skills, often measured through the Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) survey. However, few evaluation and research studies have gone beyond perception data to include direct measures of students’ gains from program participation. This work-in-progress describes efforts to evaluate the impact of an REU on students’ conceptualization and planning of research studies using a pre-post semi-structured interview process. The construct being investigated for this study is planning, which has been espoused as a critical step in the self-regulated learning (SRL) process (Winne & Perry, 2000; Zimmerman, 2008). Students who effectively self-regulate demonstrate higher levels of achievement and comprehension (Dignath & Büttner, 2008), and (arguably) work efficiency. Planning is also a critical step in large projects, such as research (Dvir & Lechler, 2004). Those who effectively plan their projects make consistent progress and are more likely to achieve project success (Dvir, Raz, & Shenhar, 2003). Prior REU research has been important in demonstrating some positive impacts of REU programs, but it is time to dig deeper into the potential benefits to REU participation. Many REU students are included in weekly lab meetings, and thus potentially take part in the planning process for research projects. Thus, the research question explored here is: How do REU participants conceptualize and make plans for research projects? The study was conducted in the ChE REU program at a large, mid-Atlantic research-oriented university during the summer of 2018. Sixteen students in the program participated in the study, which entailed them completing a planning task followed by a semi-structured interview at the start and the end of the REU program. During each session, participants read a case statement that asked them to outline a plan in writing for a research project from beginning to end. Using semi-structured interview procedures, their written outlines were then verbally described. The verbalizations were recorded and transcribed. Two members of the research team are currently analyzing the responses using an open coding process to gain familiarity with the transcripts. The data will be recoded based on the initial open coding and in line with a self-regulatory and project-management framework. Results: Coding is underway, preliminary results will be ready by the draft submission deadline. The methods employed in this study might prove fruitful in understanding the direct impact on students’ knowledge, rather than relying on their perceptions of gains. Future research could investigate differences in students’ research plans based on prior research experience, research intensity of students’ home institutions, and how their plans may be impacted by training. 
    more » « less