In Case You Didn't Know: Recommendations for Case-Based Ethics Training

In Case You Didn't Know: Recommendations for Case-Based Ethics Training

Zhanna Bagdasarov (California State University – Fresno, USA), Alexandra E. MacDougall (Central Michigan University, USA), James F. Johnson (Air Force Personnel Center, Strategic Research and Assessment Branch, USA) and Michael D. Mumford (University of Oklahoma, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7419-6.ch011
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The case-based approach to learning and instruction has been employed across multiple disciplines, including ethics education, and advocated for its effectiveness. Despite the widespread use of cases, there remain questions regarding optimal methods for case construction and presentation in order to facilitate knowledge acquisition, ethical decision making (EDM), and the transfer of learned material. Several empirical studies were conducted over the course of three years (2010-2013) in an attempt to shed some light on these topics. This chapter's purpose is three-fold. First, it provides a brief overview of the literature regarding case development. Second, it describes the new studies in this arena with respect to ethics case construction. Third, the chapter culminates in specific recommendations for case-based ethics training for young scholars and professionals in light of the new evidence.
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Teaching and training students, as well as professionals, with cases or case studies (i.e., real or fictional narrative descriptions of particular events or problems) is the method behind case-based pedagogy (Aamodt & Plaza, 1994; Kolodner, 1992). Throughout this chapter we will use the terms cases and case studies interchangeably. According to Kolodner, Owensby, and Guzdial (2004), use of case studies helps learners to “interpret, reflect on, and apply experiences – their own or those of someone else – in such a way that valuable learning takes place” (p. 829). It is a method that has long been touted across multiple disciplines as effective for presenting material and facilitating learning, among them medicine (Kim et al., 2006), law (Rippin, Booth, Bowie, & Jordan, 2002; Williams, 1992), social sciences (Mayo, 2002, 2004), nursing and health care (Dowd & Davidhizar, 1999; Mills et al., 2014; Popil, 2011; Thomas, O’Connor, Albert, Boutain, & Brandt, 2001), dental education (McKenzie, 2013), as well as business (Falkenberg & Woiceshyn, 2008; Laditka & Houck, 2006). Case-based learning is regarded as exceptionally useful because it allows an individual to gain knowledge vicariously, thus making it especially valuable for novices in their respective fields (Harkrider et al., 2013a). Case-based reasoning is the underlying mechanism of case-based learning and refers to “reasoning based on remembering previous experiences” (Kolodner, 1992, p. 4). More specifically, individuals apply their experiences (cases) to new situations, which allows them to “suggest solutions to problems, to point out potential problems with a solution being computed, to interpret a new situation and make predictions about what might happen, or to create arguments justifying some conclusion” (Kolodner, 1992, p. 1).

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