Authentic process safety decisions in an engineering ethics context: expression of student moral development within surveys and immersive environments

Jeffrey Stransky, Cheryl A. Bodnar, Mathew Cooper, Daniel Anastasio, Daniel Burkey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Two methods of assessing senior chemical engineering student ethical decision making in a process safety context were developed; the case-study-based Engineering Process Safety Reasoning Instrument (EPSRI) and a digital immersive environment entitled Contents Under Pressure. Both interventions had similar ethical and process safety decision prompts, but were presented in different manners; the EPSRI as a traditional electronic survey, and Contents Under Pressure as a digital immersive environment (‘game’). 148 chemical engineering seniors at three institutions responded to both interventions and responses were compared. Student responses to the traditionally formatted EPSRI revealed most students applied post-conventional reasoning, which is uncommon for students in their age range. This suggests that students are aware of the ethical framing of the instrument, and answer accordingly with the perceived ‘right’ response. Student responses to Contents Under Pressure showed significant differences from the EPSRI, including more typical conventional responses. These results suggest that the authenticity of the digital environment can produce more realistic student responses to ethical and process safety dilemmas. Situating ethical and process safety instruction within this type of educational intervention may allow students to gain insight on their ethical decision making process in a safer, low-risk environment.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalAustralasian Journal of Engineering Education
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - 2020

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Education
    • Engineering(all)
    • Human-Computer Interaction

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