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Educating Ethical Engineers

Cynthia Finelli, April 1, 2009

4:30pm - Adamson Wing, 136A Baker Hall

In today’s society, the need to graduate engineers who are conscious of their ethical and professional responsibilities is more important than ever. This is especially difficult given the current media environment that publicizes high-profile lapses in professional judgment but provides few positive role models for students. While engineering programs have made significant strides to incorporate ethics instruction into the engineering curriculum -- thus balancing some of the negative press and offering a framework on which students may base their behavior -- there is little evidence about which approaches most positively affect ethical development.

Dr. Cynthia Finelli is part of a multi-institutional research initiative that, over the past eight years, has partnered with 20 institutions, surveyed 1300 students, and conducted in-depth focus groups with more than 75 students to address this issue. In this session, Dr. Finelli will present findings from her team’s research and discuss how engineering educators can use the resulting evidence-based strategies to move from teaching about ethics to developing ethical professionals.


Dr. Cynthia Finelli, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Research and Learning North and associate research scientist in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. She joined the University of Michigan after serving as Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Richard L. Terrell Professor of Excellence in Teaching, and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Kettering University. In her current role, she consults with administrators, faculty, staff, and graduate students, offers workshops and seminars on teaching and learning, and supports college-wide initiatives in engineering education.
In addition, she actively pursues research in engineering education at the University of Michigan and assists other faculty in their scholarly projects. She is PI on a multi-university collaborative research study assessing the ethical outcomes associated with the curricular and extra-curricular experiences of engineering undergraduates on a national scale. She also leads an evaluation of the effects of different kinds of instructional consultations on teaching, an assessment of the impact of an interactive theater sketch on student teamwork skills, and a study of effects of an applied honors math course.
Dr. Finelli also provides national leadership in engineering education research. She is Chair of the Educational Research and Methods Division of American Society of Engineering Education, is a member of the International Planning/Advisory Committee for the 2009 Research in Engineering Education Symposium, and is guest co-editor for a special issue of the International Journal of Engineering Education on applications of engineering education research.

Co-sponsored by CIT