The E3 Team, a group of engineering educators and educational researchers, have worked collaboratively since 2000 to understand the role of ethics in engineering undergraduate education. The team was especially motivated by decades of others’ work showing that, when surveyed, engineering students were among those most likely to report frequently cheating. This site summarizes some of the team’s more important findings from four major studies that surveyed more than 5000 engineering and humanities undergraduates at varying institutions across the United States. The site also discusses continuing research on engineering students' ethical development.
The E3 project has been motivated by research over the past 40 years which has clearly demonstrated that
- engineering undergraduates self-report rates of academic dishonesty and cheating that are higher than rates reported in nearly all other disciplines.
- students who cheat in college are more likely to make unethical decisions as professionals
Together these findings suggest that high levels of cheating in college may be a precursor to unethical behavior among practicing engineers. Also, affecting the decision-making process of engineering students may have a positive impact on the integrity of professionals.
The long-term project goals include quantifying the frequency of cheating among engineering undergraduate students and to clarify their perceptions and attitudes about cheating. Also, the team identified variables that influence engineering student's decisions about engaging in unethical behaviors in the classroom and the workplace and to identify the relative influence of the variables. Using this information, the team has developed and tested a theoretical predictive model of the decision-making process used by engineering students when they are considering cheating. This theoretical model is then used to formulate practical interventions that could be used by engineering educators to improve engineering student's decisions about cheating, to validate the interventions, and to widely disseminate the interventions to the community of engineering educators.More recent research has focused on developing an overall model of ethical development among engineering undergraduates. The Student Engineering Ethical Development (SEED) project seeks to understand three components of ethical development: ethical knowledge, ethical reasoning, and ethical behavior. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, this line of research seeks to both generate a broader understanding of how students' ethical development relates to their under graduate experience and to provide practical suggestions for ethics education programs in engineering.