Engineering Students as Co-creators in an Ethics of Technology Course

Science and Engineering Ethics 27 (4):1-26 (2021)
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Research on the effectiveness of case studies in teaching engineering ethics in higher education is underdeveloped. To add to our knowledge, we have systematically compared the outcomes of two case approaches to an undergraduate course on the ethics of technology: a detached approach using real-life cases and a challenge-based learning approach with students and stakeholders acting as co-creators. We first developed a practical typology of case-study approaches and subsequently tested an evaluation method to assess the students’ learning experiences and outcomes and staff interpretations and operationalizations, seeking to answer three questions: Do students in the CBL approach report higher basic needs, motivation and competence development compared to their peers in the detached approach? What is the relationship between student-perceived co-creation and their basic needs, motivation and competence development? And what are the implications of CBL/CC for engineering-ethics teaching and learning? Our mixed methods analysis favored CBL as it best supported teaching and research goals while satisfying the students’ basic needs and promoting intrinsic motivation and communication competences. Competence progress in other areas did not differ between approaches, and motivation in terms of identified regulation was lower for CBL, with staff perceiving a higher workload. We propose that our case typology model is useful and that as a method to engage students as co-creators, CBL certainly merits further development and evaluation, as does our effectiveness analysis for engineering ethics instruction in general and for case-study approaches in particular.



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Author Profiles

Gunter Bombaerts
University of Ghent (PhD)
Diana Martin
University College London