Developing and designing online engineering ethics instruction for international graduate students

Katherine A. Austin, Greta J. Gorsuch, William D. Lawson, Byron P. Newberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The present project embarked on an educational intervention, consisting of a series of online ethics learning modules, to aid international graduate students in overcoming the acculturation barriers to understanding and inculcating normative ethical obligations associated with engineering practice and research in the United States. A fundamental initial step in the process of helping international, as well as domestic, engineering graduate students embrace ethical obligations is to provide clear instruction on fundamental engineering ethical principles and values relevant in the United States. Most institutes of higher education do not have a cohesive approach to basic graduate engineering ethics instruction, much less materials that have been calibrated for international students (National Science Foundation, http://www. nspe. org/Ethics/index. html, 2009). Herein the authors describe our instructional intervention, as well as to document the development, design, and assessment of the learning modules intended to provide students with a framework for learning ethical precepts and applying them in the engineering field. Think-Aloud Protocol and Cognitive Task Analysis results were used to improve the content modules and learning experience. Initial pilot findings indicate that the content modules increased student knowledge acquisition compared to pre-test performance, indicating a step-forward in the formulation of a useful learning tool for graduate engineering ethics instruction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-997
Number of pages23
JournalInstructional Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Ethics instruction
  • Instructional technology
  • Online learning
  • Usability
  • Web-based learning


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