Factors Related to Faculty Views Toward Undergraduate Engineering Ethics Education
One simply needs to read headlines in the news to see the impact of unethical behavior by engineers - illicit emissions controls, negligent pipeline maintenance, and improper municipal water treatment are some of the more conspicuous recent examples. Despite such enormous potential for negative impacts, helping developing engineers consider ethical aspects of their eventual professional work receives inconsistent treatment in undergraduate programs. Because faculty members develop and deliver curricula, studying their perspectives is an important way to understand how the undergraduate education system might emphasize ethics to a greater degree. The current study helps to address this issue by drawing on a large national survey administered to engineering faculty. The survey solicited their perspectives on issues related to a host of areas across engineering curricula, including engineering ethics.
Our study focuses specifically on faculty views of engineering ethics in their own most frequently taught course and in the engineering curriculum more generally. It draws on quantitative data from a survey administered to engineering faculty at a nationally representative sample of 31 institutions (n=1,119 usable faculty responses). Our analyses seek to uncover variables that help explain the following: 1) how much faculty emphasize ethical issues in engineering practice in their most frequently taught undergraduate engineering course, 2) how much they emphasize the effect of beliefs and values on ethical decisions, and 3) the extent to which they believe the engineering curriculum should address ethical issues in multiple courses. Independent variables include faculty departmental affiliation, rank, gender, years teaching at the college level, years working outside of academia, weekly number of hours spent on research, and type of course primarily taught (e.g. first-year design course, required engineering course, capstone design course, etc.).
Factors Related to Faculty Views Toward Engineering Ethics Education
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