Investigating On-campus Engineering Student Organizations as Means of Promoting Ethical Development
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Civil, Construction and Environmental EngineeringPolitical SciencePhilosophy and Religious Studies
Ethics is and should be intrinsic to engineering. However, many engineering students do not recognize that every engineering decision contains ethical dimensions and that underlying values and current sociopolitical and cultural contexts can influence those decisions. One potential way to enhance engineering students’ ethical development is through extra-curricular activities (ECAs). ECAs can include many topics and interests, such as student societies (e.g., fraternities and sororities) and cultural and social organizations (e.g., Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Latinos in Science and Engineering, Society of Women Engineers). Previous studies emphasize that participation in student organizations plays an important role in the ethical development of students. Despite this important role, it is not clear whether some student organizations are more successful at enhancing ethical development of engineering students than others, or if it is the act of participation in these organizations itself has an effect on students’ ethical development. We hypothesize that the more organizations students participate in, the higher their ethical development will be. As such, we ask, does participation in more organizations enhances students’ overall moral development? To respond to this question, we distributed a survey to senior engineering students (n=165) at one Midwestern university in the spring of 2020. The survey captured demographics information, membership in student organizations, and the standardized Defining Issue Test-2 (DIT-2), which measures students’ ethical developmental indices (Personal Interest, Maintaining Norms, Post-conventional Thinking Score, and N2Score). The preliminary results suggest that there are significant differences between the groups of students who participated in one organization and two organizations as well as between one organization and three or more organizations, with the largest difference between those who participated in one organization and those who participated in three or more organizations. This suggests that it is possible that students with low PI scores become involved in more student organizations. This project studies student organizations as key sites for ethical learning. The research suggests that students should be encouraged to participate in more student organizations in order to promote their overall ethical development.
This conference proceeding is published as Nguyen, Luan M., Cristina Poleacovschi, Kasey M. Faust, Kate Padgett Walsh, Michaela Leigh LaPatin, Scott Grant Feinstein, and Cassandra Rutherford. "Investigating On-campus Engineering Student Organizations as Means of Promoting Ethical Development." In 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access. 2021. https://peer.asee.org/37396 ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. Posted with permission."