Contextualizing Engineering Ethics in Capstone Projects Using the IDEALS Professional Responsibility Assessment

Jay McCormack and Steven Beyerlein
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Idaho Moscow, ID 83844
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Denny Davis
Engineering Education Research Center
Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164

Howard Davis
School of Chemical Engineering Bioengineering
Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164

Patsy Brackin
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Terre Haute, IN 47803

Robert Gerlick
Mechanical Engineering Technology
Pittsburg State University Pittsburg, Kansas

Paul Leiffer
Department of Engineering
LeTourneau University Longview, TX 75607

Michael Trevisan and Jennifer Lebeau
Learning and Performance Research Center
Washington State University Pullman, WA 99164-2136
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Susannah Howe
Picker Engineering Program
Smith College Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Phillip Thompson
Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Seattle University Seattle, WA 98122

Javed Khan
Aerospace Science Engineering
Tuskegee University Tuskegee, AL 36088

Engineering ethics is recognized as a valued topic in industry and education but is difficult to teach and assess. This paper presents a web-based professional responsibility instrument and accompanying rubric, which is used to assess student understanding and skill at identifying and discussing areas of strength and opportunity in an ethical case taken from the student’s project. Students completing the assignment most frequently rated work competence as both highly important and a team strength while issues of sustainability were least frequently cited. The scored results of this assignment showed students were moderately effective at relating ethical issues to situations within their projects as well as addressing them responsibly. In a post- assessment survey, students and faculty rated the assignment as somewhat accurate to mostly accurate and mostly accurate respectively. An inter-rater agreement study of the assessment showed that scorers were on average within one level of difference on the scoring rubric 97% of the time. Results of administering the assessment in a capstone course can be packaged and presented as part of a program accreditation self-study.


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