Case studies


Module 14 – Exercises: Case studies

E4J University Module Series: Integrity & Ethics

Module 14: Professional Ethics

This section contains suggestions for in-class and pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.

The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging and the lecturer might wish to adapt facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions as well as providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting close to them. Given time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback in each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session. If time permits, the lecturer could facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.

All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues vary widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context. The lecturer is encouraged to relate and connect each exercise to the key issues of the Module.

There are three categories of exercises for lecturers:

A.  Case studies that can be used for the subject of professional ethics

B.  Case studies that specifically address role morality

C.  Additional exercises

To prepare for using case studies as a teaching methodology, lecturers can consult the short but informative " Leading Case Discussions" from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Discussion questions are provided for all case studies, but if lecturers identify a need to review ethical theories with students, they can begin discussion by asking how different theoretical ethical perspectives would analyse the problems, and then ask how students would analyse the discussion questions.

The case studies and the exercises that follow lend themselves to a variety of teaching techniques, including individual and group-based discussion, debates, and role plays. Students can take an initial vote on how to resolve a problem, then discuss the problem with the lecturer, and then vote again to see if they have altered their views. If classrooms have access to the Internet, lecturers can consider using software for creating and editing documents online (such as Google Docs) to record written responses of either individual students or groups. Debates are well-suited to students who are hesitant to express their personal views, because students are expressing a view that they do not have to defend as their own personal view. Role plays are well-suited to creating awareness of the variety of persons and interests involved in ethical issues, and may also help to create empathy.

Lecturers should also note that the University of Texas "Ethics Unwrapped" website has many case studies and resources lecturers could use, including videos.

Finally, the Module uses sample codes of ethics for psychologists, from both Asia and South Africa. Lecturers can use sample ethics codes from any other area, such as law, medicine, or engineering, as students will likely find sample codes from their intended profession more interesting. If codes applicable to the intended profession are not available, students may find their university or school code of ethics or a code from another university or school as a relevant and interesting subject matter.

Last modified: Tuesday, 14 July 2020, 12:52 PM