This module is a resource for lecturers  


Student assessment


This section provides a suggestion for a post-class assignment for the purpose of assessing student understanding of the Module. Suggestions for pre-class or in-class assignments are provided in the Exercises section.

The following assignments are proposed, some of which require class time and some do not, so lecturers should adjust the class structure as needed. They contain varying degrees of experiential learning and can be adapted to suit student abilities.

Assignment 1: Group presentation or video

Before class, ask students to research professional ethics concepts that were emphasized by the lecturer in the Module, and prepare a group presentation for the class. Possible concepts to assign are professional ethics, codes of ethics, and role morality. One or more of the concepts noted below can also be assigned, especially if there is interest in exploring corruption related topics. Lecturers can also let groups choose which concept they want to present, or suggest concepts to be approved by the lecturer. If students have access to a video or recording resources, available on many mobile phones, the lecturer can ask students to make 1-2 short videos illustrating these or other Module concepts. Lecturers should be sure to review presentation materials or videos prior to discussing them in class. In addition to serving as an assessment tool, assignments delivered in and interspersing throughout the class meeting can energize class discussion.

1) "Conflict of interest": What does this phrase mean? How is it related to professional ethics? Can you provide examples of such conflicts, from different professions? Lecturers can consult the relevant entry from Ethics Unwrapped.

2) "Quid pro quo": What does this phrase mean and when might quid pro quo be unethical in professional practice? Quid pro quo means that one person gives something to another with the understanding that something is owed in return, and in its extreme form it can constitute bribery or trading in influence.

3) "Dirty hands": What does this phrase mean? Is its use limited to politicians? Is it a necessary part of public life that cannot be avoided? Dirty hands means that someone violates an ethical principle supposedly for a greater good, and is frequently discussed in connection with politicians. Lectures can consult The Ethics Centre's Ethics Explainer - The Problem of Dirty Hands, and the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on dirty hands.

Assignment 2: Written essay

Students select a question from a list provided by the lecturer (see below). Some of the questions are based on recommended readings and are easier to answer, while some questions are more challenging because the student has to supply more of the essay structure. Lecturers may also encourage students to choose their own topic, and then submit it to the lecturer to determine whether it is suitable. Essays can range from a response paper of 2-3 pages, which primarily presents the student's summary of and views on the article, to a more detailed critical treatment of the article in 8-10 pages. Lecturer could suggest that students save their essay for future reference and consult it three years from now, or if possible, lecturers can save the students' essays and ask students to contact them in three years.

Option 1: In their article, Black and Barney (see Advanced Reading) argue that codes of ethics actually do more harm than good. They feel that (paradoxically) codes of ethics are unethical. Is their view valid? Does their reasoning make you doubt whether you should rely upon professional codes?

Option 2: Clifford Christians (see Advanced Reading) argues that someone must write and enforce codes to make professionals accountable to their constituencies and to the public at large. Do you agree with his views? Why or why not? Assuming he is correct, how can codes be effectively implemented?

Option 3: Psychologists, historians, sociologists and others have sometimes argued that one cannot truly change human nature in any substantial way. If that is true, do any ethical trainings, policies, codes, or guidelines really matter?

Option 4: What would be the best way for you to insure that you would remain accountable and responsible year after year within the profession you wish to enter? Imagine yourself working within the profession of your choosing three years from now. Where will you draw the line regarding what you will not do to make money or achieve fame? What will you not do no matter how much profit you could make or how much recognition you could receive? Can you think of behaviour you would like to exhibit to be a role model for others? Are there shades of grey where you are not sure how you should act or make decisions? If so, what would be the best way for you to determine how to be ethical in difficult situations when you must make vexing choices?

Assignment 3: Community assignment

Lecturers with more resources can consider an assignment that takes students into the community to address a problem faced by a professional community and propose solutions. Lecturers would have to organize the logistics ahead of time, but if for example there is a current issue of professional ethics in the news or known to students, lecturers can identify persons to interview and resources to check and assign work to individuals or groups of students. Students should be advised to come to class with the results, which can be discussed in class, and then students can submit a report incorporating their research and making suggestions for resolution or improvement.

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