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The Ethical Student: Enhancing the Teaching of Ethics in the Undergraduate Curriculum Funded by the Learning and Teaching Institute, University of Chester.

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Presentation on theme: "The Ethical Student: Enhancing the Teaching of Ethics in the Undergraduate Curriculum Funded by the Learning and Teaching Institute, University of Chester."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Ethical Student: Enhancing the Teaching of Ethics in the Undergraduate Curriculum Funded by the Learning and Teaching Institute, University of Chester Ruth Healey, Chris Ribchester & Kimberley Ross Department of Geography & Development Studies 1 st July 2011

2 Outline Background to project Tutorials Intervention Findings and discussion of impact

3 The Ethical Student Project The Geography benchmark statement emphasises research and field based studies in relation to ethics, but also recognises the moral and ethical issues involved in debates and enquiries within the discipline (QAA 2007: 5). Ethics is one of five graduate attributes (Barrie 2004). Teaching ethical thinking skills, are the types of skills which will help students to deal with uncertainty and supercomplexity in the world.

4 A conceptual model of the role of ethics and ethical matters in teaching and learning Capacity for ethical decision making and evolving personal attributes The Disengaged Graduate Undergraduate Ethics implicit Content patchy behaviourcontent The Empowered Graduate Undergraduate behaviourcontent Content diverse Ethics explicit Content sequential Scholarly Processes Enhancing awareness Self reflection Figure A: Current ethical teaching Figure B: Enhanced ethical teaching Source: adapted from Boyd et al. (2008: 39-40)

5 The Ethical Student Project The debate as to whether it is possible to teach ethics without indoctrinating individuals into a particular way of thinking is long standing (Escámez et al. 2008). Our project does not involve teaching prescriptive ethics, rather it is teaching for ethical thinking (Hay & Foley 1998; Smith 1995).

6 Intervention Level 5 Tutorials module (SH Geog only, n=30). The teachers role in this module is to facilitate reflection and focused inquiry (Hay & Foley 1998). Introduced to 8 fictitious but realistic scenarios which they had to make decisions about. Individually students made the decisions over the course of the year and then discussed their choices in the final tutorial.

7 Progressive Scenarios 1. Lending your lecture notes 2. Group work problems 3. Conflict at work Academic world Personal world Professional world 5. Data collection error 4. Exam paper found 6. Module choices 7. Plagiarism 8. Research findings

8 Conceptual Model of Enhanced Ethical Teaching The Empowered Graduate Undergraduate Content diverse Ethics explicit Content sequential Scholarly Processes Enhancing awareness Self reflection behaviourcontent Source: adapted from Boyd et al. (2008: 39-40) Capacity for ethical decision making and evolving personal attributes

9 Intervention: Evaluation Methods of Evaluation: Two questionnaires given to Level 5 Single Honours Geography students who participated in the module one at the beginning and one at the end. Focus group with students (n=12). Focus group with members of staff teaching on the tutorials module (n=5).

10 Questionnaire The main questionnaire was split into 2 parts: – Open-ended questions which helped to determine the students understanding of ethics. – Ten bipolar statements (drawn from Clarkeburn et al, 2003), students asked to choose which statement best reflected their own view point. For example...

11 Definitely my opinion More or less what I believe Neither statement represents my view More or less what I believe Definitely my opinion Moral questions have absolutely the right answers There are very few right answers in the real world and answers to moral questions are not one of them. Complexity Uncertainty Variability Contingent Greater self-awareness Openness to other perspectives Taking ownership of their decisions

12 Did the Tutorials Have an Impact?

13 Wilcoxon Matched Pairs Test: T = 61.5 Significant difference at 0.05

14 Case Study – Participant 23 Questionnaire 1 What does the term ethics mean to you? Morals. Rights. Non bias. Ethics in previous studies... Religious education. Human geography. Ethical dilemma Friend being bullied. Questionnaire 2 What does the term ethics mean to you? Ethics is generally doing the right thing by others whilst sticking to my morals. Ethics in previous studies... The different scenarios within tutorials provide a range of ethical issues. Ethical dilemma... Whether to cut my hours at work and have less money to spend time on my uni work - I did cut my hours.

15 Student Focus Group Thoughts on Ethics in General – What have the tutorials helped you realise about ethics? I think you should always consider what action you take, but I think it [ethics] has a special importance to geography due to the nature of field work. I found out I would change my actions if it [the consequences] was more serious I think your decisions are influenced by the consequences of the decision

16 Student Focus Group The Tutorial Sessions It was perhaps a bit vague at the start about why we were doing it. The was quite a good range [of ethical scenarios], some you could relate to more than others. The options that you have to pick from, sometimes the things I wanted to pick didnt fit with the choices you had.

17 Summary Tutorials useful for supporting ethical development Polarised views from students over relevance of this within geography Distinction between physical and human geographers (reflected in tutors to some extent) Highest mark for the ethics tutorial Considered second most interesting tutorial of the year

18 Questions?


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