A Constructivist Approach to the use of Case Studies in teaching Engineering Ethics

  • Diana Adela Martin
  • Edward Conlon
  • Brian Bowe
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 715)


Our paper aims to explore the effectiveness of a constructivist approach to the teaching of engineering ethics through case studies, by putting forward a contextualization of the much discussed case study “Cutting Road Side Trees” [12] in light of the constructivist frame suggested by Jonassen [8]. First, we briefly analyse how the use of case studies for the teaching of engineering ethics eludes the complexity of the engineering professional environment before arguing that constructivism is a learning theory that can help to address this complexity. The final section proposes a constructivist reworking of the case method in a manner that aims to correct the deficiencies identified, followed by a discussion of the results of applying the contextualized exercise to First Year group of engineering students. The key findings reveal that the contextualized scenario enhances, in some respects, students’ understanding of the social dimension of the engineering profession.


Engineering education Engineering ethics Social dimension of engineering Case studies Role-playing Constructivism 



The authors want to thank Kevin Kelly and the DIT - School of Multidisciplinary Technologies, for the support in the implementation of the contextualized “Cutting Roadside Trees” exercise and facilitating the presentation of key findings at ICL 2017.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diana Adela Martin
    • 1
  • Edward Conlon
    • 1
  • Brian Bowe
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Multidisciplinary Technologies, College of Engineering and Built EnvironmentDublin Institute of TechnologyDublinIreland

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