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2020 Annual Conference
The ASEE 2020 Virtual Annual Conference content is available.
Convener: Michael Hoffmann, Georgia Institute for Technology (email@example.com)
Since the 1980s, research supports the educational superiority of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) in student teams over traditional, lecture-based learning styles. Being challenged by a real-world problem that defies, based on its complexity, simplistic approaches increases student engagement, motivates deliberation, provides opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, stimulates creativity, and improves student-faculty interaction, communication skills, and critical thinking.
The proposed expert panel will report on recent efforts to use problem-based learning in classes and workshops on engineering ethics, responsible conduct of research, and technology assessment. The panel will include Georgia Tech faculty members Wendy Newstetter, Roberta Berry, Jason Borenstein, and Michael Hoffmann, and Georgia Tech graduate students Ruchir Karmali and Jason Wang. The panel presentations will introduce the audience to ongoing research projects on problem-based learning and different approaches to implementing PBL in the classroom, which are rooted in a long tradition of PBL research at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Wendy Newstetter will discuss the theoretical underpinnings of PBL with a particular focus on identification of the appropriate cognitive model of problem solving. She will trace the evolution and development of previous models of problem-based learning coming from medicine and engineering. In the first case, medical PBL seeks to promote hypothetico-deductive reasoning while in engineering model-based reasoning is the goal. She will then move to a discussion of the challenges of identifying and settling on a cognitive model of ethical reasoning, particularly in the context of fractious problems.
Roberta Berry will briefly summarize her theorization of “fractious problems” (novel, complex, ethically fraught, unavoidably public, and unavoidably divisive policy problems that are introduced by advances in bioscience and biotechnology) and the “navigational approach” she proposes for addressing these problems (considering multiple perspectives, drawing on past precedent, considering predicted consequences, developing consensus principles, considering a wide array of possible approaches, and employing a persistent, iterative approach to policymaking). She will then report on her recent effort to implement the approach in an undergraduate class of over 150 students arrayed in over 20 PBL teams. This effort was co-designed and co-implemented with an interdisciplinary team of graduate students, including Ruchir Karmali and Jason Wang, who will join her in reporting on the effort and on the possibilities of enlisting graduate students as partners in implementing PBL in the undergraduate classroom.
Jason Borenstein will discuss how PBL has been incorporated into a research ethics course for applied physiology and biomedical engineering doctoral students. He and the course’s other co-instructors plan to integrate elements from Dr. Berry’s PBL approach. More specifically, students in the course will be responsible for addressing the importance of Perspectives, Possibilities, Precedent, and Principles, which are derived from Dr. Berry’s approach, while making a presentation on a controversial topic in the realm of biotechnology and ethics.
Michael Hoffmann will discuss how the interactive and web-based argument visualization software AGORA-net can be used to guide and structure problem-based learning in small groups of students, reducing thus the need for facilitators. He will report about how an AGORA-based approach to PBL in engineering ethics education can be used to prepare students for the kind of ill-structured problems they might encounter in their professional life. This approach starts from the assumption that a precondition for making ethical decisions that meet the challenges posed by ill-structured problems is the ability to analyze complex decision situations in a way that the involved stakeholders can be identified and their varying perspectives and values understood. Appreciating another person’s needs, interests, and the resulting intellectual or ideological position presupposes the ability to grasp the arguments that justify this position. Thus, ethical decision making in complex situations requires an argument-based dialogue about a wide range of stakeholder perspectives and their justifications that can lead to imagining alternative courses of action and hopefully better decisions.
Dr. Wendy Newstetter is the Director of Educational Research and Innovation in the College of Engineering at Georgia Tech. Dr. Newstetter has been instrumental in the development of a problem-based learning (PBL) curriculum in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, recently recognized by the Board of Regents as the 2013 Department of Teaching Excellence. Dr. Newstetter has co-authored two books and published journals articles in the Journal of Engineering Education, Research in Engineering Design and the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. She is a Senior Associate Editor and Special Issues Editor for the Journal of Engineering Education.
Dr. Roberta Berry’s research focuses on ethically contentious issues in bioscience, biotechnology, biomedicine, and health care, and on policymaking and education associated with these issues. She is the author of The Ethics of Genetic Engineering (Routledge 2007, 2010 paperback) and the co-editor of A Health Law Reader: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Carolina Academic Press 1999). She was PI for a 2009-2011 NSF-EESE grant that first operationalized her “navigational approach” to policymaking for “fractious problems”.
Dr. Jason Borenstein is the director of Graduate Research Ethics Programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is also an assistant editor of Science and Engineering Ethics and co-editor of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's Ethics and Information Technology section. His research interests include bioethics, engineering ethics, robotic ethics, and research ethics. Dr. Borenstein was a collaborator on a NSF-EESE grant obtained by PI Dr. Roberta Berry. The project involved developing a problem-based learning approach for graduate students in a variety of disciplines.
Dr. Michael Hoffmann’s research focuses on the question how creativity, cognitive change, and learning can be stimulated by argument visualization. He is the PI of an international research project that is funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), U.S. Department of Education, and that collaborates with Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU) and the Russian Academy of Science (2010-2013). At the center of this project is the development of the interactive and web-based software "AGORA-net: Participate – Deliberate," which is freely usable on the project web site at http://agora.gatech.edu/, and a curriculum and learning materials for a PBL approach to engineering ethics education in which the AGORA software plays an integral role.
Ruchir Karmali, M.S. Student in Public Policy at Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S. in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech. She is currently working with Dr. Aaron Levine on an NSF-funded project that seeks to understand how ethically contentious fields, such as stem cell research and nanotechnology, shape the graduate school experience for students.
Jason Wang, Ph.D. Student in Bioengineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. He is currently investigating the effects of HIV on skeletal fragility and fracture healing under Dr. Robert Guldberg in the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. He is pursuing a teaching certificate in the Tech to Teaching Higher Education Pathway.