Assessment of a case study laboratory to increase awareness of ethical issues in engineering

  • Clancy E
  • Quinn P
  • Miller J
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Abstract

Case studies in engineering ethics were integrated into a first course in electrical and computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Worcester, MA, with the primary objective of increasing students' awareness of ethical issues in the workplace. During a three-hour "laboratory" period, students read and discussed three short case studies in engineering ethics, focusing on understanding the differing viewpoints of individuals within a case and identifying multiple courses of action for resolving the issue. The effects of the laboratory were assessed via student focus groups and surveys. All focus group participants agreed that their awareness of ethical issues in engineering was enhanced by the laboratory. In contrast, the survey results were equivocal, showing improvement in the students' awareness of ethical issues; however, the particular questions found to differ statistically preintervention versus postintervention were not consistent between course offerings.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Assessment
  • Case studies
  • Engineering education
  • Engineering ethics

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