Ethics teaching in engineering can be problematic because of student perceptions of its subjective, ambiguous and philosophical content. The use of discipline-specific case studies has helped to address such perceptions, as has practical decision making and problem solving approaches based on some ethical frameworks. However, a need exists for a wider range of creative methods in ethics education to help complement the variety of activities and learning experiences within the engineering curriculum. In this work, a novel approach is presented in which first-year undergraduate students are responsible for proposing ethics education activities of relevance to their peers and discipline area. The students are prepared for the task through a short introduction on engineering ethics, whereby generic frameworks for moral and professional conduct are discussed, and discipline and student-relevance contexts provided. The approach has been used in four departments of engineering at Imperial College London, and has led to the generation of many creative ideas for wider student engagement in ethics awareness, reflection and understanding. The paper presents information on the premise of the introductory sessions for supporting the design task, and an evaluation of the student experience of the course and task work. Examples of proposals are given to demonstrate the value of such an approach to teachers, and ultimately to the learning experiences of the students themselves.
Ethics activitiesStudent engagement in learning design