The Socially Responsible Engineer: Assessing Student Attitudes of Roles and Responsibilities
Citation: Sandra A. Lathem, Maureen D. Neumann, Nancy Hayden (2011/07) The Socially Responsible Engineer: Assessing Student Attitudes of Roles and Responsibilities. Journal of Engineering Education (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): The Socially Responsible Engineer: Assessing Student Attitudes of Roles and Responsibilities
Tagged: Engineering (RSS) engineering education (RSS), institutionalism (RSS), institutional change (RSS), social responsibility (RSS), curriculum reform (RSS), systems approach (RSS)
This paper describes a four-year mixed method study on the changes in student technical knowledge and their perceptions of engineers' social responsibility resulting from curriculum reform at a state university's Civil and Environmental Engineering department.
The curricular changes included:
- developing systems courses on the intersections of transportation, the environment, and economics that replaced earlier, discipline-siloed versions of those classes
- the addition of service learning into required classes
- incorporating information technology and inquiry-based learning into required classes
The study found that while self-reported technical knowledge and perceptions on social responsibility remained constant (or even increased for females), student attitudes were negative regarding the curriculum change for the first two years, with concerns like "will this change our pass rate on the FE exam" raised (answer: it didn't). This suggests that student attitudes to curricular change may be negative regardless of the actual impact and value of that change.
It introduces and validates a Student Attitude Survey (included in an appendix) designed to measure student attitudes (no surprise here) on the roles and responsibilities of civil and environmental engineers.