Document Type

Conference Paper

Version Deposited

Published Version

Publication Date


Conference Name

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference


Engineering grand challenges increasingly involve numerous social and ethical considerations that transcend the technical skills that dominate traditional engineering education. Engineering solutions often have major, long-lasting impacts on society. Since the process of technical innovation occurs in increasingly complex social exchanges, engineers are frequently confronted with social and ethical dilemmas in their professional lives. How do students acquire the skills needed to tackle these problems? The authors hypothesize that placing engineering challenges and solutions in a classroom context while emphasizing social engagement and impact facilitates the development of engineering students as moral agents who understand the consequences of their decisions. Thus, a collaboration of investigators from the grantee universities are investigating how game-based educational interventions with strongly situated components influence early-curriculum engineering students' ethical awareness and decision making. This paper offers an overview of the progress to date of this three year, NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) grant that aims to (1) characterize the ethical awareness and decision making of first-year engineering students, (2) develop game-based learning interventions focused on ethical decision making, and (3) determine how (and why) game-based approaches affect students’ ethical awareness in engineering and the advantages of such approaches over non game-based approaches. Results from this investigation will offer the engineering education community insight into how engineering students approach problem solving through the lens of ethical reasoning and decision making, potentially transforming an often overlooked part of engineering curricula for decades to come.


© 2021 American Society for Engineering Education