A Constructivist Approach to the use of Case Studies in teaching Engineering Ethics

Diana Adela Martin, Eddie Conlon, Brian Bowe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


Our paper aims to explore the effectiveness of a constructivist approach to the teaching of engineering ethics through case studies, by putting forward a contextualization of the much discussed case study “Cutting Road Side Trees” [12] in light of the constructivist frame suggested by Jonassen [8]. First, we briefly analyse how the use of case studies for the teaching of engineering ethics eludes the complexity of the engineering professional environment before arguing that constructivism is a learning theory that can help to address this complexity. The final section proposes a constructivist reworking of the case method in a manner that aims to correct the deficiencies identified, followed by a discussion of the results of applying the contextualized exercise to First Year group of engineering students. The key findings reveal that the contextualized scenario enhances, in some respects, students’ understanding of the social dimension of the engineering profession.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching and Learning in a Digital World - Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning
EditorsDavid Guralnick, Istvan Simonics, Michael E. Auer
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
ISSN (Print)2194-5357


  • Case studies
  • Constructivism
  • Engineering education
  • Engineering ethics
  • Role-playing
  • Social dimension of engineering


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