Skip to main content

A CSCL Script for Supporting Moral Reasoning in the Ethics Classroom

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNISA,volume 11677)


In many engineering schools around the world, ethics is a compulsory subject. However, teaching ethics in engineering is not a simple duty, as engineering students usually attribute less value to learning ethics than to other subjects. Hereby, we report on our initial efforts towards developing a CSCL script for fostering meaningful ethical discussions among engineering students in the classroom. The script comprises successive phases in which the students conduct ethical judgments individually, in a small group and in a teacher-mediated class group discussion. The process seeks that students cast their judgments without inhibitions, so it maintains students’ anonymity in all phases. A trial with 35 engineering students confirmed that the tool offers a good usability, averaging a 79.9 score in the System Usability Scale (SUS). Furthermore, the trial cohort highlighted the convenience of anonymity when discussing ethical cases. Analysis of student behavior revealed that ethical judgments tend to be stable across the activity. However, judgments changed mostly in groups where more discussion was generated. In the future, we will study whether group composition that maximizes the heterogeneity of the students in the groups according to their individual ethical appraisals increases the likelihood of students varying their ethical judgments, as a result of argumentative and reflexive processes in discussions.


  • CSCL script
  • Mobile CSCL
  • Moral reasoning
  • Engineering education

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
USD   49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD   64.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Learn about institutional subscriptions


  1. ABET: Rationale for revising criteria 3. Accessed 1 Apr 2019 (2016)

  2. Patel, P.: Engineers, Ethics, and the VW Scandal. IEEE Spectrum, 25th September 2015. Accessed 1 Apr 2019

  3. EMOL: UC suspende hasta por un año a alumnos que participaron en copia masiva por WhatsApp. Accessed 1 Apr 2019 (2016)

  4. Sarangi, S., Sharma, P.: Artificial Intelligence: Evolution, Ethics and Public Policy. Routledge, India (2018)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  5. Holsapple, M.A., Carpenter, D.D., Sutkus, J.A., Finelli, C.J., Harding, T.S.: Framing faculty and student discrepancies in engineering ethics education delivery. J. Eng. Educ. 101(2), 169–186 (2012).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  6. Sunderland, M.E.: Sci. Eng. Ethics (2013).

  7. Génova, G., González, M.R.: Teaching ethics to engineers: a socratic experience. Sci. Eng. Ethics 22(2), 567–580 (2016).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  8. Hess, J.L., Fore, G.: A systematic literature review of US engineering ethics interventions. Sci. Eng. Ethics 24(2), 551–583 (2018)

    Google Scholar 

  9. Kohlberg, L., Hersh, R.H.: Moral development: a review of the theory. Theor. Pract. 16(2), 53–59 (1977).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  10. Dillenbourg, P.: Over-scripting CSCL: The risks of blending collaborative learning with instructional design. In: Kirschner, P.A. (ed.) Three Worlds of CSCL. Can We Support CSCL?, pp. 61–91. Open Universiteit Nederland, Heerlen (2002)

    Google Scholar 

  11. May, D.R., Luth, M.T.: The effectiveness of ethics education: a quasi-experimental field study. Sci. Eng. Ethics 19(2), 545–568 (2013).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  12. Bandura, A.: Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educ. Psychol. 28(2), 117–148 (1993)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  13. Weinberger, A., Ertl, B., Fischer, F., Mandl, H.: Epistemic and social scripts in computer–supported collaborative learning. Instr. Sci. 33(1), 1–30 (2005)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  14. Weinberger, A.: Principles of transactive computer-supported collaboration scripts. Nordic J. Digit. Literacy 6(03), 189–202 (2011)

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hernández Leo, D., Asensio-Pérez, J.I., Dimitriadis, Y.: Computational representation of collaborative learning flow patterns using IMS learning design. J. Educ. Technol. Soc. 8(4), 75–89 (2005)

    Google Scholar 

  16. Hoffmann, M., Borenstein, J.: Understanding Ill-Structured engineering ethics problems through a collaborative learning and argument visualization approach. Sci. Eng. Ethics 20(1), 261–276 (2014).

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  17. Binder, P.: The intersection of ethical decision-making modules and classroom response systems in business education. The Future of Education, Florence, Italy. Accessed 9 June 2013 (2013)

    Google Scholar 

  18. Butchart, S., Handfield, T., Restall, G.: Using peer instruction to teach philosophy, logic, and critical thinking. Teach. Philos. 32(1), 1–40 (2009)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  19. Node.js. Accessed 16 Mar 2019 (2019)

  20. Express.js. Accessed 16 Mar 2019 (2019)

  21. PostgreSQL. Accessed 16 Mar 2019 (2019)

  22. EJS. Accessed 16 Mar 2019 (2019)

  23. Bootstrap. Accessed 16 Mar 2019 (2019)

  24. Tan, J.: Onerous favorites. markkula center for applied ethics, Santa Clara University. Accessed 16 Mar 2019 (2015)

  25. Bangor, A., Kortum, P.T., Miller, J.T.: An empirical evaluation of the system usability scale. Int. J. Hum.-Comput. Interact. 24(6), 574–594 (2008)

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  26. Quanteda. Accessed 15 Apr 2019 (2019)

Download references


This research has been funded by CONICYT Fondecyt Initiation into Research grant 11160211, and Fondecyt Regular grant 1161200.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Claudio Alvarez .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this paper

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Alvarez, C., Zurita, G., Baloian, N., Jerez, O., Peñafiel, S. (2019). A CSCL Script for Supporting Moral Reasoning in the Ethics Classroom. In: Nakanishi, H., Egi, H., Chounta, IA., Takada, H., Ichimura, S., Hoppe, U. (eds) Collaboration Technologies and Social Computing. CRIWG+CollabTech 2019. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11677. Springer, Cham.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-28010-9

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-28011-6

  • eBook Packages: Computer ScienceComputer Science (R0)