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Cultivating engineering ethics and critical thinking: a systematic and cross-cultural education approach using problem-based learning

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In May 2008, the worst earthquake in more than three decades struck southwest China, killing more than 80,000 people. The complexity of this earthquake makes it an ideal case study to clarify the intertwined issues of ethics in engineering and to help cultivate critical thinking skills. This paper first explores the need to encourage engineering ethics within a cross-cultural context. Next, it presents a systematic model for designing an engineering ethics curriculum based on moral development theory and ethic dilemma analysis. Quantitative and qualitative data from students’ oral and written work were collected and analysed to determine directions for improvement. The paper also presents results of an assessment of this interdisciplinary engineering ethics course. This investigation of a disaster is limited strictly to engineering ethics education; it is not intended to assign blame, but rather to spark debate about ethical issues.

Keywords: critical thinking; earthquake; engineering ethics; problem-based learning

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Graduate Institute of Learning and Instruction,National Central University, Chung-Li320, Taiwan 2: Department of Mechanical Engineering,National Yunlin University of Science and Technology, Douliu640, Taiwan

Publication date: August 1, 2011

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