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Exploring the curricular content of engineering ethics education in Ireland
Diana Adela Martin1, Eddie Conlon1, Brian Bowe2
1College of Engineering and Built Environment, TU Dublin, Ireland; 2Office of Quality Assurance and Academic Programme Records, TU Dublin, Ireland
Our contribution aims to determine the main curricular themes employed in engineering ethics instruction. In the use of the term ‘curricular content”, the study is guided by an understanding of curriculum in terms of the syllabus content of a specific discipline or set of units taught to students . The research study has been conducted in cooperation with the national accrediting body Engineers Ireland and includes 23 Engineering programmes from 6 institutions in Ireland that underwent accreditation between 2017-2019. The research method employed is a documentary analysis of the materials prepared by the programmes for accreditation or made available on the website of all participant programmes. The findings reveal three themes amenable to the implementation of ethics across the curriculum (sustainability, Health and Safety, legislation), which are present in a variety of courses, such as technical courses, design courses, professional formation courses, capstone projects, legal studies courses, business studies courses, as well as in work placement. The curricular themes purporting to professional ethics, responsibility and the societal context of engineering have a strong presence in courses of professional formation, which have the role of acculturating students to the profession of engineering and its norms. Thus the main conclusion of our study highlights the need for a hybrid implementation of ethics across the curriculum as well as in dedicated single modules, in order to promote a comprehensive engineering ethics education.
Ethics in Engineering Education 4.0
Bronwyn Claudia Swartz
Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
The advent of the fourth industrial revolution, commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, has had an all-pervasive influence on virtually every aspect of high-quality manufacturing and associated services. As a consequence, it has triggered an increasing demand in industry to drive technological transformation. By implication, the situation has also propelled a transformation in the requirements of Higher Education (HE) during the process of training engineers, towards more blended or online modes of delivery. While blended and online delivery modes have generally been accepted as an improvement (Tait 2018) to engineering education, little regard has been given to ethical considerations surrounding online engineering education, for example privacy concerns and access. Moreover, the recent global COVID-19 pandemic has brought these challenges into sharp focus.
Therefore, notwithstanding that it is widely accepted that new technology has a significant positive impact in many areas of our everyday lives (Rocchi 2019) including the HE landscape, it is also notable that some commentators are now raising questions about whether our new technological scenario implies new ethical challenges. Thus, the purpose of this scoping review is to summarize and present current practices to uphold ethical standards in engineering education, including the review of proposed and implied ethical guidelines, and thereby identify gaps in existing literature.
Accordingly, guided by a framework provided by Jasanoff (2016), 26 peer-reviewed articles from selected engineering databases, that were published in the last decade were examined to identify international practices and ethical guidelines pertaining to blended or online engineering education. Emerging themes concerning the ethical use of technology for engineering education were identified through three lenses which were (1) hidden costs associated with the use of technology, (2) exclusivity due to the use of technology and (3) agency due to technology.
This scoping review found that unless we, as engineering educators have a better understanding of the impact of technology on structures of hierarchy in society and social interaction, words like “citizenship”, “equality” and “democracy” lose their meaning as cardinal markers for an open society.
The findings of this scoping review suggests that ethics is situational, and thus practices which appear to be successful in the Australia, or countries in Europe and the United States do not enjoy the same degree of success as countries in Africa. Ultimately, this scoping review highlights questions that need further discussion.
A journey to visibility: Making explicit the teaching and learning of ethics within the engineering undergraduate program
Alison Joy Gwynne-Evans
University of Cape Town, South Africa
How learning is conceptualized and negotiated is affected by the theory of learning implicit in the design of the curriculum. The shift to online learning provides the opportunity to build capacity into the curriculum with new appreciation of the effect of the change of context and process.
Three theories of learning will be presented and compared: a theory of learning that assumes transference and is acquisition-based; a theory of learning that assumes transference by means of participation within a community and a theory of learning that is activity-centered and aims to be transformative. Each of these theory foregrounds particular affordances to privilege different teaching strategies. The effects and opportunities of these will be evaluated within specific initiatives for teaching and learning ethics in a particular context.
This paper will describe and evaluate initiatives for teaching ethics in two capstone courses that form part of the undergraduate engineering program at the University of Cape Town. The analysis identifies different teaching strategies that are utilized and highlights differences in the way assessment operates to capture learning.
Teaching and learning relating to ethics within engineering is seen to gain distinct emphases from the wider course curriculum, where the particular context affects the learning outcomes and the knowledge, skills and values developed.