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Out-of-Classroom Experiences: Bridging the Disconnect between the Classroom, the Engineering Workforce, and Ethical Development
International Journal of Engineering Education (2013)
  • Brian A. Burt
  • Donald D. Carpenter, Lawrence Technological University
  • Matthew A. Holsapple
  • Cynthia J. Finelli
  • Rob M. Bielby
  • Janel A. Sutkus, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Trevors S. Harding
The extant research on engineering ethics instruction shows that students receive ethics instruction within the engineering curricula. Unfortunately, the methods used in engineering undergraduate classrooms are described as ‘‘abstract’’ and have mixed results related to impacting students’ ethical development. Thus, exploring how out-of-classroom experiences—as a curricular alternative—influences students’ ethical development is warranted. This is an exploratory investigation to determine how out-of-classroom experiences influence students’ ethical development. The authors define ethical development using three constructs: knowledge of ethics, ethical reasoning, and ethical behavior. We draw upon a conceptual model that suggests students’ ethical development is impacted by what takes place inside and outside of the classroom. As the first phase of a multi-year, national study to holistically assess the ethical development of engineering undergraduates in the United States, we conducted focus groups consisting of faculty members and students at 18 institutions. All focus group participants were asked questions related to campus climate, ethics, and involvement in out-of-classroom experiences. Our data suggest that participating in out-of-classroom experiences: served as a complement to the classroom instruction on ethics; helped students connect learning about ethics to the engineering workplace; and, influenced students’ ethical development. Given what we learned about the engineering undergraduates’ involvement in out-of-classroom experiences, we suggest that engineering faculty members use classroom instruction to connect out-of-classroom experiences to ethics and encourage reflective practice in ethics instruction.
  • out-of-classroom,
  • ethics,
  • qualitative
Publication Date
Citation Information
Brian A. Burt, Donald D. Carpenter, Matthew A. Holsapple, Cynthia J. Finelli, et al.. "Out-of-Classroom Experiences: Bridging the Disconnect between the Classroom, the Engineering Workforce, and Ethical Development" International Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 29 Iss. 3 (2013)
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