Advertisement

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1649–1667 | Cite as

Navigating Bioethical Waters: Two Pilot Projects in Problem-Based Learning for Future Bioscience and Biotechnology Professionals

  • Roberta M. BerryEmail author
  • Aaron D. Levine
  • Robert Kirkman
  • Laura Palucki Blake
  • Matthew Drake
Original Paper

Abstract

We believe that the professional responsibility of bioscience and biotechnology professionals includes a social responsibility to contribute to the resolution of ethically fraught policy problems generated by their work. It follows that educators have a professional responsibility to prepare future professionals to discharge this responsibility. This essay discusses two pilot projects in ethics pedagogy focused on particularly challenging policy problems, which we call “fractious problems”. The projects aimed to advance future professionals’ acquisition of “fractious problem navigational” skills, a set of skills designed to enable broad and deep understanding of fractious problems and the design of good policy resolutions for them. A secondary objective was to enhance future professionals’ motivation to apply these skills to help their communities resolve these problems. The projects employed “problem based learning” courses to advance these learning objectives. A new assessment instrument, “Skills for Science/Engineering Ethics Test” (SkillSET), was designed and administered to measure the success of the courses in doing so. This essay first discusses the rationale for the pilot projects, and then describes the design of the pilot courses and presents the results of our assessment using SkillSET in the first pilot project and the revised SkillSET 2.0 in the second pilot project. The essay concludes with discussion of observations and results.

Keywords

Fractious problems Navigational approach Ethics education Problem-based learning (PBL) Ethics assessment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge support in conducting these pilot projects and preparing this article from a National Science Foundation (NSF) Ethics Education in Science and Engineering (EESE) grant, NSF EESE Award ID 0832912 (PI: R.M.B.) and additional support in preparing the article from a NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant, NSF DRL Award ID 1150114 (PI: A.D.L.). We acknowledge additional support for the second pilot project from the School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations set forth in this article are those of the co-authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of these funders. We acknowledge the efforts of the NSF EESE Research Team for the first pilot project: John D. Banja, Gillian Hue Beckford, Roberta M. Berry, Laura Palucki Blake, Jason Borenstein, Robert J. Butera, Lara Denis, Matthew Drake, Martha L. Elks, Kathy Kinlaw, Robert J. Kirkman, Michelle Lampl, Aaron D. Levine, Paul A. Lombardo, Patricia Marstellar, Robert M. Nerem, Wendy C. Newstetter, Douglas F. Paulsen, Edward L. Queen II, Mark Risjord, Charity Scott, Lisa A. Tedesco, Keith D. Wilkinson, Leslie E. Wolf. We thank Wendy C. Newstetter, a member of the NSF EESE Research Team, in particular, for her assistance in operationalizing the “navigational approach” in the form of the “fractious problem navigational” (FPN) skills. We also extend thanks to the following members of the NSF EESE research team for their efforts in scoring the results of the first pilot project: Roberta M. Berry, Laura Palucki Blake, Jason Borenstein, Robert J. Butera, Kathy Kinlaw, Robert J. Kirkman, Aaron D. Levine, Wendy C. Newstetter, Edward L. Queen II, Leslie E. Wolf. We thank Ethan Butler for his extensive and invaluable research assistance in support of the work reported here for both pilot projects. We also thank both of the following for their very helpful efforts as graduate research assistants for the NSF EESE pilot project: Alexander M. Smith, William Edward Staley, Jr. We acknowledge the efforts of the Science, Technology, and Human Values Research Team for the second pilot project: Roberta M. Berry, Laura Palucki Blake, Ruchir N. Karmali, Sharon E. Norman, Jason L. Wang. We extend thanks to the following for their efforts in scoring the results of the second pilot project: Caroline H. Appleton, Kathryn J. Kline, Stephanie C. Noble, Carter M. Parker. We also thank the following for their efforts in facilitating the Science, Technology, and Human Values PBL teams: Christopher Y. Bellew, Bekim Haliti, Susan Kibler, Hannah T. Santoro, Claire E. Woodring.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

11948_2015_9725_MOESM1_ESM.docx (161 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 161 kb)
11948_2015_9725_MOESM2_ESM.docx (153 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 153 kb)

References

  1. Barrows, H. S., & Tamblyn, R. (1980). Problem-based learning: An approach to medical education. Springfield, IL: Problem-based Learning Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Beckford, G. H., Berry, R. M., Queen, E. L., II, Kinlaw, K., Newstetter, W. C., & Wolf, L. E. (2013). Problem based learning (PBL) course addressing ‘fractious problems’ in science and technology. National Academy of Engineering: Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science. http://www.onlineethics.org/Resources/TeachingTools/Modules/27534.aspx.
  3. Berry, R. M. (2007). The ethics of genetic engineering. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Berry, R. M. (2011a). A small bioethical world? HealthCare Ethics Committee Forum, 23(1), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berry, R. M. (2011b). Teaching health law: Problem-based learning regarding “fractious problems” in health law: Reflections on an educational experiment. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 39(4), 694–703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Berry, R. M. (2012). NSF EESE interdisciplinary PBL course on “fractious problems”course materials. National Center for Professional and Research Ethics: EthicsCORE-Resources. https://nationalethicscenter.org/resources/808.
  7. Berry, R. M., Borenstein, J., & Butera, R. J. (2013). Contentious problems in bioscience and biotechnology: A pilot study of an approach to ethics education. Science and Engineering Ethics, 19(2), 653–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Borenstein, J., Drake, M. J., Kirkman, R., & Swann, J. L. (2010). The engineering and science issues test (ESIT): A Discipline-specific approach to assessing moral judgment. Science and Engineering Ethics, 16(2), 387–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chang, P.-F., & Wang, D.-C. (2011). Cultivating engineering ethics and critical thinking: A systematic and cross-cultural education approach using problem-based learning. European Journal of Engineering Education, 36(4), 377–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Drake, M. J., Griffin, P. M., Kirkman, R., & Swann, J. L. (2005). Engineering ethical curricula: Assessment and comparison of two approaches. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(2), 223–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eisen, A., & Berry, R. M. (2002). The absent professor: Why we don’t teach research ethics and what to do about it. American Journal of Bioethics, 2(4), 38–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hammersley, M. (1992). What’s wrong with ethnography?: Methodological explorations. London; New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Herkert, J. R. (1999). ABET’s engineering criteria 2000 and engineering ethics: Where do we go from here? Paper presented at the OEC International Conference on Ethics in Engineering and Computer Science, March 1999. National Academy of Engineering: Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science. http://www.onlineethics.org/Education/instructessays/herkert2.aspx.
  14. Herkert, J. R. (2005). Ways of thinking about and teaching ethical problem solving: Microethics and macroethics in engineering. Science and Engineering Ethics, 11(3), 373–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hmelo, C. E. (1998). Problem-based learning: Effects on the early acquisition of cognitive skill in medicine. Journal of Learning Sciences, 7(2), 173–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jonassen, D. H., Shen, D., Marra, R. M., Cho, Y. H., Lo, J. L., & Lohani, V. K. (2009). Engaging and supporting problem solving in engineering ethics. Journal of Engineering Education, 98(3), 235–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jones, N. L., Peiffer, A. M., Lambros, A., & Eldridge, J. C. (2010a). Problem-based learning for professionalism and scientific integrity training of biomedical graduate students: Process evaluation. Journal of Medical Ethics, 36(10), 620–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jones, N. L., Peiffer, A. M., Lambros, A., Guthold, M., Johnson, A. D., Tytell, M., et al. (2010b). Developing a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum for professionalism and scientific integrity training for biomedical graduate students. Journal of Medical Ethics, 36(10), 614–619.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lee, L. M., Viers, H. W., & Anderson, M. A. (2013). The Presidential Bioethics Commission: Pedagogical materials and bioethics education. Hastings Center Report, 43(5), 16–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. National Science Foundation. (2010). Ethics education in science and engineering (EESE). http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=13338.
  21. Newstetter, W. C. (2005). Designing cognitive apprenticeships for biomedical engineering. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(2), 207–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Newstetter, W. C. (2006). Fostering integrative problem solving in biomedical engineering: The PBL approach. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 34(2), 217–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Patel, V. L., Groen, G. J., & Norman, G. R. (1991). Effects of conventional and problem-based medical curricula on problem solving. Academic Medicine, 66(7), 380–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Patel, V. L., Groen, G. J., & Norman, G. R. (1993). Reasoning and instruction in medical curricula. Cognition and Instruction, 10(4), 335–337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Spiro, R. J., Feltovich, P. J., Jacobson, M. J., & Coulson, R. L. (1991). Knowledge representation, content specification, and the development of skill in situation-specific knowledge assembly: Some constructivist issues as they relate to cognitive flexibility theory and hypertext. Educational Technology, 31(9), 22–25.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberta M. Berry
    • 1
    Email author
  • Aaron D. Levine
    • 2
  • Robert Kirkman
    • 2
  • Laura Palucki Blake
    • 3
  • Matthew Drake
    • 4
  1. 1.Georgia Tech Honors ProgramGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.School of Public PolicyGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Office of Institutional ResearchHarvey Mudd CollegeClaremontUSA
  4. 4.Palumbo Donahue School of BusinessDuquesne UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations