Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ethics in Engineering Education (non-ELD session)

[note: this session may be of interest to some members, though it wasn't sponsored by ELD]

Engineering Ethics & Climate Change
• Joseph Herkert, ASU
• Little written about ethics and climate change
• Gardiner 2004:
o Uncertainty = red herring: issue isn’t lack of smoking gun, it’s how we act in absence of smoking gun
o Not either/or – we have to take action to minimize climate change, AND we have to adapt to climate change that is going to happen
• Codes of Ethics as written aren’t the answer: “paramountcy clauses,” environment/sustainability, intergenerational equity (future), objectivity/truthfulness, public understanding
• Codes: written with microethics perspective, not macroethics

“Web-based Professional Ethics Modules”
• Byron Newberry (Baylor U.) and Greta Gorsuch (Texas Tech U.)
• Professional ethics and regulations vary by culture
• Includes intellectual property, plagiarism, data integrity
• Brought in an applied linguist
• MS Word statistics – writing to 9th/10th grade level = shorter sentences, limited vocabulary, embedded definitions [ex: ConceptTutor]
• Indexing software – substitute more frequently used, common words for more infrequently used, more complex words

“Lowering the Barriers to Achieve Ethics Across the Engineering Curriculum”
• Kristyn Masters (BME faculty) and Sarah Pfatteicher (Asst. Dean), UW-Madison
• Big, research-focused university
• Want to increase instructor comfort for teaching ethics
• Students and instructors more comfortable with numbers - measurable outcomes
• Sarah gets asked to give a guest lecture on ethics, to address ABET requirement
• Module in ethics problem-solving that is reusable
• Case study ethical problem, students given 20 min. quiz to “solve”
• Control group: full lecture and open-ended answer, expeimental groups: full lecture and DISORDER framework, b) short overview and DISORDER framework
• A) NIH constrains hESC strains you can use – not very good; b) Federally funded equipment can’t touch non-approved lines, c) Privately funded stem cell lines in lab next door, and they’re willing to share (?)
• Open-ended responses = 65% a) keep using crappy cells and not get anywhere with research, or b) steal cells – unsatisfactory polarized answers
• DISORDER framework (from “Doing Good and Avoiding Evil”) – mimics design process; undergrads do 6 semesters of design, so very comfortable – bringing uncomfortable topic into their comfort zone
• Framework inspired huge % of students with alternative answers, and increased # alternative answers per student; final solutions chosen flipped to alternatives; zero illegal answers
• Paradoxically, more structure = more complex and innovative answers
• Even a short overview had a big impact
• 19 instructors – positive feedback
• Kristyn – funded by CAREER award (CBET – 0547374)
• Q: What does DISORDER stand for? A: Defining the problem, and gathering the Information were the most important steps – what questions would they ask the client for a design project?

“Preparing Engineering Grad Students for Ethical Problems in Research”
• UT-Austin
• Many ethical research issues in news lately
• ORI finds research misconduct more frequently among grad students than any other group
• Online materials and 4-hour workshop
• We talk about rules of research conduct as if they’re immutable; but they arose from humanities-baesd disciplines – therefore, cognitive dissonance or unwritten rules that are discipline-specific
• Engineers are averse to quotation marks, even for direct quotes – but they’ll cite sources
• Grad student plagiarism at Ohio University – 20 years of misconduct – plagiarizing the literature reviews of other masters theses – followed the model for 20 years
• What is “plagiarism”? Different in engineering vs. humanities? How paraphrase a process description – “readers don’t want to have to look this up elsewhere.”
• Engineers don’t see “words” as their product (intellectual property) – value lab research over “book” research
• Grad students are thrown on existing research projects and expected to produce – other students have done the lit review, so they never do
• We need engineering-specific standards, and not just for the lit review: Collaborative authoring, selecting data, presenting data – “nobody is addressing this, except maybe BME faculty”
• Q: I saw a lot of instances of faculty treating grad students inappropriately
• A: My question when grad students get accused is always, “where was the faculty advisor?”


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