New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

A New Framework for Measuring the Ethical Awareness and Perception Among Engineering Students in Higher Education

Bidyut Baruah, University of York (United Kingdom)

Manal Atesh, University of York (United Kingdom)

Tony Ward, University of York (United Kingdom)


Ethical decision making is an essential element in the profession of engineering. Today engineers are expected to not only apply technical knowledge and expertise in their practices but they also need to understand the various ethical responsibilities involved in all their organizational commitments and work related approaches. This now raises the question of when and how can engineers be trained to be ethical? Some of the recent studies have implied that ethical awareness and decision making responsibilities should be introduced at a pre-employment stage preferably integrated as part of a teaching curriculum. This can help in training budding engineers to be ethical at an early stage of their career. This therefore, brings the challenge of designing curriculum and teaching approaches for Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) so as to produce engineers who are not only academically competent and work ready but are also ethically competent. For educators, in order to teach ethics effectively and apply the appropriate teaching approaches, it is important to understand the students' current perception and awareness of ethics. So far, there are no set frameworks or measures by which one can determine ethical awareness among engineering students. The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE): the UK’s national academy of engineering is known for promoting engineering excellence and has recently introduced a set of standards known as the RAE principles for engineers to use as a guideline for achieving high ideals of professional life. Based on these RAE principles, this study proposes a new approach by which educators from HEIs can measure the ethical awareness and decision making competencies among engineering students. Based on a pilot test conducted among postgraduate students in an engineering programme at the University of York (UK), the findings throw light on the effectiveness of teaching and promoting ethics in HEIs. It also reviews whether the RAE principles can be used as a core basis for measuring ethical awareness and perception among students. This study being the first to propose and evaluate the feasibility of using the RAE principles as an effective measurable framework for HEIs makes an important contribution to the literature of ethics and curriculum design.


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