Document Type

Conference Paper

Version Deposited

Published Version

Publication Date


Conference Name

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference


Engineering ethics is an extremely important topic that needs to be focused on more in engineering curricula, as many of the projects that engineers work on have a profound impact on society. There are many pitfalls with the traditional ways in which ethics is taught to engineering students as an abstract philosophical topic, rather than personal decision making situated in complex real contexts. The three main approaches that are used for engineering ethics include being taught by a professor outside of the engineering space, being taught late in their curriculum such as during a senior capstone project, and being taught in a short period of time as a module of another class. The downsides to these approaches are that students do not see ethics as equally important as some other topics, they do not see it consistently integrated throughout the curriculum, nor do they see ethical decisions as complex nuanced, and situated in context,. Game-based learning is a means to actively engage students in interrogating the complexities of ethical decision making. Game play can align with student learning objectives as well as improve student knowledge, behaviors, and dispositions. Our paper introduces three games that are designed to assist in the development of students’ ethical awareness and reasoning. Three engineering ethics games have been developed as the foundation for an NSF-funded project that investigates the empirical impacts of game play on ethical reasoning and decision making. Cards Against Engineering Ethics, Toxic Workplaces, and Mars: An Ethical Expedition have all been in development for the last few years. Each game targets specific ethics learning outcomes as well as different play mechanics. These outcomes include identifying the complexities of ethical dilemmas, evaluating responses to ethical situations in context, and promoting ethical discussions among peers. The time required to play each game varies, ranging from 20 minutes, to 75 minutes, to 5 minutes once a week for 15 weeks. The benefits that these games include an enriched learning experience, student engagement, and a greater connection between ethics and real life.


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