Acclimating international graduate students to professional engineering ethics.
ABSTRACT This article describes the education portion of an ongoing grant-sponsored education and research project designed to help graduate students in all engineering disciplines learn about the basic ethical principles, rules, and obligations associated with engineering practice in the United States. While the curriculum developed for this project is used for both domestic and international students, the educational materials were designed to be sensitive to the specific needs of international graduate students. In recent years, engineering programs in the United States have sought to develop a larger role for professional ethics education in the curriculum. Accreditation requirements, as well as pressures from the private sector, have helped facilitate this shift in focus. Almost half of all engineering graduate students in the U.S. are international students. Further, research indicates that the majority of these students will remain in the U.S. to work post-graduation. It is therefore in the interest of the profession that these students, coming from diverse backgrounds, receive some formal exposure to the professional and ethical expectations and norms of the engineering profession in the United States to help ensure that they have the knowledge and skills--non-technical as well as technical--required in today's engineering profession. In becoming acculturated to professional norms in a host country, international students face challenges that domestic students do not encounter; such as cultural competency, language proficiency, and acculturation stress. Mitigating these challenges must be a consideration in the development of any effective education materials. The present article discusses the project rationale and describes the development of on-line instructional materials aimed at helping international engineering graduate students acclimate to professional engineering ethics standards in the United States. Finally, a brief data summary of students' perceptions of the usefulness of the content and instructional interface is provided to demonstrate the initial effectiveness of the materials and to present a case for project sustainability.
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ABSTRACT: The present project embarked on an educational intervention, consisting of a series of online ethics learning modules, to aid international graduate students in overcoming the acculturation barriers to understanding and inculcating normative ethical obligations associated with engineering practice and research in the United States. A fundamental initial step in the process of helping international, as well as domestic, engineering graduate students embrace ethical obligations is to provide clear instruction on fundamental engineering ethical principles and values relevant in the United States. Most institutes of higher education do not have a cohesive approach to basic graduate engineering ethics instruction, much less materials that have been calibrated for international students (National Science Foundation, http://www.nspe.org/Ethics/index.html, 2009). Herein the authors describe our instructional intervention, as well as to document the development, design, and assessment of the learning modules intended to provide students with a framework for learning ethical precepts and applying them in the engineering field. Think-Aloud Protocol and Cognitive Task Analysis results were used to improve the content modules and learning experience. Initial pilot findings indicate that the content modules increased student knowledge acquisition compared to pre-test performance, indicating a step-forward in the formulation of a useful learning tool for graduate engineering ethics instruction.Instructional Science 01/2011; 39:1-23. DOI:10.1007/s11251-010-9162-1 · 1.83 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Twenty first century engineers need a greatly expanded suite of skills, competencies and personal attributes including critical analysis, reflective practice, effective teamwork and cross-cultural sensitivity to name but a few. But helping first year engineering students develop such skills remains a challenge, since cohorts are diverse and many enter their degree programme with a narrow view of engineering and poor communication skills. Moreover, attempts to develop these skills through process and content may be resisted by students (and staff), who are more comfortable with the status quo. The authors build on and apply previous Australian research into transformative education, in large diverse cohorts of first year engineering students, by tracking attitudinal change over a semester using a paired pre/post semester survey and students' Learning Journals to provide richer responses to observed changes. This paper discusses the implications for pedagogical practice which lays a foundation for developing the knowledge, skills and attributes the profession requires.
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ABSTRACT: This article starts with an overview of the author's personal involvement--as an Operations Research consultant--in several engineering case-studies that may raise ethical questions; e.g., case-studies on nuclear waste, water management, sustainable ecology, military tactics, and animal welfare. All these case studies employ computer simulation models. In general, models are meant to solve practical problems, which may have ethical implications for the various stakeholders; namely, the modelers, the clients, and the public at large. The article further presents an overview of codes of ethics in a variety of disciples. It discusses the role of mathematical models, focusing on the validation of these models' assumptions. Documentation of these model assumptions needs special attention. Some ethical norms and values may be quantified through the model's multiple performance measures, which might be optimized. The uncertainty about the validity of the model leads to risk or uncertainty analysis and to a search for robust models. Ethical questions may be pressing in military models, including war games. However, computer games and the related experimental economics may also provide a special tool to study ethical issues. Finally, the article briefly discusses whistleblowing. Its many references to publications and websites enable further study of ethical issues in modeling.Science and Engineering Ethics 09/2011; 17(3):539-52. DOI:10.1007/s11948-010-9215-5 · 1.52 Impact Factor