Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer Science (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Computer Science

Advisor 1

Charles Wallace

Committee Member 1

Alexandra Morrison

Committee Member 2

Linda Ott


Recent scandals caused by the results of negligent, malicious, or shortsighted software development practices highlight the need for software developers to consider the ethical implications of their work. Computing ethics has historically been a marginalized area within computing disciplines, so educators in these disciplines do not have a common background for teaching the topic. Computing ethics education, although often a required part of coursework, can vary widely in the method of implementation from university to university.

In this report I summarize the insights I gained from interviewing four educators from three different institutions on their pedagogical approaches to computing ethics. I found there to be a few terms that had very different contextual meanings for the different educators. "Case study" and "group discussion" in particular are two terms with a diversity of purposes, methods of use, and literal meanings among the interviewees. I summarize three different methods of extending engineering ethics education beyond one ethics course. I review software tools designed to assist with ethical reflection or to encourage thoughtful discussion, and I make an argument for which elements of those tools seemed to assist in thoughtful consideration and discussion. Finally, I propose a sketch of an "ethically sensitive" software design, and consider the implications of applying software to ethical reflection. I conclude with some areas for future study that could benefit the development of a software intervention for ethics, as well as the field of ethics education in general.