Finding A "Place" For Reading And Discussion Courses: Design And Assessment Of "Social And Ethical Impacts Of Technology"

Kyle Oliver, Traci Nathans-Kelly, Sandra Courter, Laura Grossenbacher
2007 Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings   unpublished
This paper discusses the development and assessment of a reading and discussion course entitled "Social and Ethical Impacts of Technology." Taught in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Engineering Professional Development by members of the department's technical communication faculty, the course combined assigned readings, an in-class and an online discussion, and an end-of-semester writing assignment to help students achieve the following learning outcomes: • Outcome 1:
more » ... • Outcome 1: Articulate connections among engineering, ethics, community, history, social change, and politics by actively listening and participating in a small discussion setting • Outcome 2: Recognize and work with the role of uncertainty in engineering and its relationship to social and ethical dimensions • Outcome 3: Analyze and assess the social and ethical impact of technology on society by critically thinking about the readings and discussion topics • Outcome 4: Communicate effectively by writing and speaking • Outcome 5: Identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems related to professional and ethical responsibilities, including interdisciplinary approaches to said problems Our three-pronged assessment scheme measured success of the learning outcomes through (1) interviews with a student focus group and with individual instructors; (2) written student surveys, including a short mid-semester evaluation and Elaine Seymour's Student Assessment of Learning Gains (SALG) protocol at the end of the semester; and (3) review of the online discussion forum transcripts and the final research projects. Results suggest that students satisfactorily achieved Outcomes 1-3 but that adjustments should be made to the course to help students better succeed with Outcomes 4-5. The authors discuss future plans for the course as well as exportable lessons for those interested in trying to find a place for similar courses at their own institutions. Throughout the paper, the authors also argue that flexible, interdisciplinary, student-centered discussion courses like this one have the potential to teach some of the ABET professional skills in way that students and faculty alike will find refreshing, exciting, and effective.
doi:10.18260/1-2--1963 fatcat:wekyqzsv2zgulmgsn74ecrratq