2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Assessing the Effects of a Short-Term Global Engineering Ethics Course on the Development of Engineering Students' Moral Reasoning and Dispositions [Traditional paper – research/evidence-based, DEI/research methods]

Presented at Engineering Ethics Division (ETHICS) Technical Session_Tuesday June 27, 1:30 - 3:00

This paper describes a project to develop, deliver, and assess a short-term (one-week) course on global engineering ethics at Shandong University, Shandong, China in the summer of 2022. This project builds on previous work regarding the development and assessment of global engineering ethics, shortening the time required to deliver and assess a course. The goal was to explore whether a shorter version of the course resulted in gains similar to the longer version, and whether shorter versions of the assessment instruments could track these gains.

Ethics is increasingly recognized as central to engineering, although disagreement exists concerning how it should be carried out and assessed. These disagreements are compounded by the global nature of engineering, where technologies span multiple countries, and peoples from different cultures work together as never before. Separation in time and space between those developing technologies and those affected by these technologies can increase difficulties associated with identifying and mitigating the negative effects of technology on human life. Additionally, regulatory and cultural differences can lead to disagreement regarding how technologies should or should not be developed and used. For these reasons, efforts have been made to develop global engineering ethics education.

Over several years, members of the team have developed and delivered a semester-long, two-credit hour course in global engineering ethics, finding that participants scored significantly higher in measures of ethical reasoning post- than pre-course, and developed a greater concern with fairness and loyalty. Given the limited time and space in engineering curricula, and limited number of qualified faculty to teach global engineering ethics, this project sought to determine whether a course with reduced contents delivered over a shorter period of time would be similarly effective. Additionally, it sought to determine whether shorter versions of the instruments used to assess this education, the ESIT (Engineering and Science Issues Test) and MFQ (Moral Foundations Theory), would be as effective as their original, longer versions. This was motivated by the fact that, in ongoing research, the project team was having difficulty collecting adequate sample sizes, in part because it was taking so long to complete full versions of the ESIT and MFQ.

To do so, in July of 2022, Chinese students enrolled in “Global Engineering Ethics” completed shortened versions of the ESIT and MFQ on the first and last days of the course. Our presentation will describe the nature of the course, as well as pre- and post-course results on shortened versions of the ESIT and MFQ.

  1. Dr. Rockwell Franklin Clancy III Orcid 16x16http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7797-7835 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University [biography]
  2. Dr. Scott Streiner University of Pittsburgh [biography]
  3. Dr. Qin Zhu Orcid 16x16http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6673-1901 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University [biography]
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