Developing and Assessing Macroethics Modules for the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative Responsible Conduct of Research Courses

Project: Research project

Project Details


Developing and Assessing Macroethics Modules for the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative Responsible Conduct of Research Courses Developing and Assessing Macroethics Modules for the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative Responsible Conduct of Research Courses Intellectual Merit: This combination education and research project will develop and assess introductory macroethical online modules and disseminate them broadly by making them part of the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Programs Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) courses. Doing so responds to recent and National Institutes of Health (NIH) requirements in this area. Both agencies are requiring RCR education for growing numbers of grant recipients. In addition, NIH is now recommending RCR education include discussion of: the scientist as a responsible member of society, contemporary ethical issues in biomedical research, and the environmental and societal impacts of scientific research (NIH 2009). Addressing these topics demands going beyond discussion of individual ethical dilemmas in research (microethics) to examine the collective social responsibilities of scientists and engineers (macroethics). Because of the wide use of online RCR courses, incorporating macroethics content in online RCR educational materials is vital to achieve this goal. While quality ethics education should not rely on a single, short online course, online courses provide advantagesconsistency, verifiability, user flexibility, and efficient resource usewhich make them an important element of robust ethics education. The project team will develop five modules, one for each of the following disciplinary RCR courses: 1) biomedical sciences, 2) social and behavioral sciences, 3) physical sciences, 4) engineering, and 5) research administration. The major intellectual contribution of these macroethical modules will be their contentan introduction to significant macroethics concepts from science and engineering ethics (SEE) and science and technology studies (STS). Rather than survey the entire array of issues encompassed by macroethics, the modules will focus on teaching a small number of concepts that will create a foundation for scientists and engineers to engage in critical thinking about the macroethical issues raised by their work. These core concepts will be broad so that they can be common to all five disciplinary modules. Beyond the core conceptual content, the five modules will have discipline-specific materials. These parts will use the core concepts to raise and address issues of scientists social responsibilities in specific disciplinary appropriate examples. The project will bring together an interdisciplinary team to develop module content and solicit further input from active scholars in SEE, STS, science, and engineering. The leadership team includes scholars with expertise in SEE, STS, RCR, biology, engineering, online teaching, assessment, and science education. The team will work with active scholars in SEE and STS to identify and refine appropriate common core concepts for the modules by proposing roundtable discussions at the following professional association meetings: Association of Practical and Professional Ethics, the Society for Social Studies of Science, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities. In addition, a network of nine disciplinary consultants will aid the leadership team in applying the core concepts to discipline-specific materials. Before disseminating the final modules through the CITI Program, the team will assess module effectiveness and refine the modules as necessary. The assessment will combine existing validated assessment tools with new, study-specific assessment materials. The assessment protocol will examine: 1) knowledge acquisition by the macroethics module users, 2) the effect of combining macroethical and microethical education on acquisition of knowledge in both areas, and 3) knowledge retention. Retention will be measured by inviting the assessment participants to repeat the assessment instrument three months after their initial participation
Effective start/end date10/1/1012/31/13


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $264,292.00


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