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Engineering ethics curriculum incorporation methods and results from a nationally administered standardized examination : background, literature, and research methods

conference contribution
posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by B Barry, Matthew OhlandMatthew Ohland
The ethics literature within the engineering arena is long on opinions, but short on evidence as to the most effective curriculum models for incorporating an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility. Research related to professional ethics has primarily focused on assessment of student learning, rather than evaluation of curriculum integration methods. A limited number of studies have been published that compare two methods of curriculum integration, yet no rigorous studies that compare multiple methods of curriculum incorporation are known to exist. Without clear evidence of best methods, the debate will continue, and there will be no assurance that the methods currently in use are the most effective. Within this paper, a recently completed research program is described that evaluated the methods of assimilating ethics into the engineering curriculum to determine if a relationship exists between the curriculum models and the outcome on a nationally administered examination, engineering-specific standardized examination. The study’s population was engineering students during the time period between October 1996 and April 2005 enrolled at nine academic institutions in the southeast United States for which valuable data are available. A mixed-methods (quantitative and qualitative) research program was designed and executed. The qualitative aspects of the study focused on research questions related to the impetus and considerations given to curriculum changes made by the twenty-three discrete engineering programs that participated in the study. The qualitative research questions were investigated through a process of semi-structured interviews conducted with program representatives and evaluation of an extensive number of ABET Self-Study accreditation documents. Once the curriculum models utilized by the participating programs were identified and defined for the chronological limits of the study, a quantitative process was implemented to compare the curriculum models to performance on the ethics section of the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination. A student-level dataset of subject scores was obtained for all administrations of the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination for each of the participating programs. Statistical techniques were utilized to evaluate the relationship between curriculum methods and examination performance. This paper will provide a statement of the perceived educational issues and a comprehensive summary of the applicable literature. A detailed discussion of the study’s design and implemented methods will be presented. Subsequent publications will present the findings, discussion, and implications resulting from the completed study. This study was executed to fulfill dissertation research requirements associated with doctoral program in Engineering Education at Purdue University.


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Austin, Texas


American Society for Engineering Education

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Washington, DC.

Peer Reviewed


Open Access


Era Eligible


Name of Conference

American Society for Engineering Education. Conference