Teaching Ethics

Volume 20, Issue 1/2, Spring/Fall 2020

Qin Zhu, Sandy Woodson
Pages 31-46

Educating Self-Reflective Engineers
Ethics Autobiography as a Tool for Moral Pedagogy in Engineering

Some engineering educators recognize the necessity and challenges of teaching students moral sensitivity. As recently pointed out by some scholars, along with moral sensitivity, promoting “self-knowledge” is significantly lacking in engineering curricula. We suggest that the “ethics autobiography” employed in some health and psychological science programs can serve as a useful tool for helping engineering students develop moral sensitivity and self-reflective competencies. First, this paper briefly discusses some unique potential strengths of introducing ethics autobiography as a tool for moral pedagogy to engineering education. Second, this paper provides five specific examples on how to implement ethics autobiography in the classroom. Among the five examples, two are directly related to engineering education and the other three can easily be adapted to meet the needs of engineering education. Finally, this paper concludes with some discussion of the implications of ethics autobiography for engineering ethics education reform and the limitations and ethical considerations of using autobiography in moral pedagogy.