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A Learning Module for Increasing Ethical Awareness of Students

[+] Author Affiliations
Anil K. Kulkarni, John C. Wise

Pennsylvania State University

Paper No. IMECE2005-82782, pp. 143-146; 4 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4232-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


A learning module was introduced in a required Mechanical Engineering undergraduate course with the goal of increasing the ethical awareness of students. Specifically, the students were supposed to understand the basic theories of ethics and an engineering code of ethics, apply this understanding to differentiate between ethical and unethical engineering practices, and be able to suggest ethical solutions. The course was junior level Measurements and Instrumentation, taken by 120 students in six sections of about 20 each. In each section, a two-and-a-half-hour “Ethics workshop” was conducted during a lab period which included several interactive student activities such as discussion of theories of ethics, engineering case-studies and guidelines to solve an engineering “problem”, short video clips, a quiz, and an in-depth analysis of a hypothetical situation. At the conclusion of the module, students were asked to prepare a short report on an ethical solution of that situation. A survey was administered several days before and again several days after the workshop with identical questions. Based on the chi-square test, statistically significant increase in the ethical awareness of students was evident. Similar modules were also presented in freshman seminars courses. Although the above survey involved primarily junior students, it appears that the introduction of material on topics of academic integrity would be helpful to first-year students, and the introduction of engineering professional ethics would be useful at the beginning of their major in the first semester in the junior year.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME
Topics: Students



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