The Ethical Reasoning Instrument™ (ERI)

Cynthia Bauerle, James Madison University; Laura Bottomley, North Carolina State University; Carrie Hall, University of New Hampshire-Main Campus; Daniel Howard, University of New Hampshire-Main Campus; Lisette Torres-Gerald, Nebraska Wesleyan University

Description

We built a digital resource instrument (a wizard) to assist in the development of life sciences curricula that frame biology competencies in the context of ethical reasoning, since ethical and moral reasoning are important dimensions to college student development (Kohlberg, 1976). Using the “Eight Key Questions” framework developed at James Madison University, we generated a series of questions and examples of how instructors can adapt their syllabi, classroom activities, assessment, and pedagogy to re-center ethical reasoning. The result is an instrument called the Ethical Reasoning InstrumentTM (ERI), which will then be available to instructors via the wizard. We envision that this ERITM can be adapted for use in disciplinary courses outside of life sciences.

Goals of the Instrument

The goals of the instrument (Ethical Reasoning InstrumentTM; ERI) are

  • to assist instructors in infusing ethical reasoning into a new or existing life science course by providing a framework for addressing eight characteristics of ethical reasoning practice.
  • to infuse these characteristics into student learning activities, performance assessments, and pedagogical strategies that model ethical behavior.
  • to create a learning context through which students engage with and practice ethical reasoning in classes associated with their life sciences curriculum.

Instrument Outcomes

Users of the ERI instrument will be able to incorporate some or all of the eight characteristics of ethical reasoning (listed below) into their life sciences courses. Here, the focus is incorporating these ethical reasoning dimensions into three area of courses: pedagogy, assessment, and course activities. Instructors can also use the ERI to evaluate the success of their course implementation. The instrument provides scaffolding for assessment and activity development, as well as examples of each of eight key characteristics of ethical reasoning.

  • Fairness – How can I (we) act justly, equitably, and balance legitimate interests?
  • Outcomes – What possible actions achieve the best short- and long-term outcomes for me and all others?
  • Responsibilities – What duties and/or obligations apply?
  • Character – What actions help me (us) become my (our) ideal self (selves)?
  • Liberty – How do I (we) show respect for personal freedom, autonomy, and consent?
  • Empathy – How would I (we) act if I (we) cared about all involved?
  • Authority – What do legitimate authorities (e.g. experts, law, my religion/god) expect?
  • Rights – What rights, if any, (e.g. innate, legal, social) apply?

Assessing Instrument Outcomes

Outcomes will be assessed through a discourse analysis of syllabi using Wizard Outcomes as thematic categories. Faculty members will also be given a survey to assess whether the ERI Wizard is valuable, easy to use, and is effective in achieving student learning outcomes. A sub-set of faculty members will be interviewed before and after course development through semi-structured interviews to get a more intimate description of their experience with using the ERI.

Wizard Outcome 1 – Fairness

Learning Activities: Does the course include opportunities for students to practice just and equitable science by considering how biological research questions are impacted by the culture, ethnicity and gender of the scientists who ask them? Does the course include examination of how research in biology may affect Indigenous populations? Does the course provide opportunities for students to learn about inequities in science and the consequences of ignoring inequities in the practice of science?

Learning Assessments: Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of and address inequity in science? Are learning assessments constructed in a way to ensure equity and fairness for learners?

Pedagogy: Does the course include opportunities for the instructor to model just and equitable science? Does the course include attention to principles of universal design of learning, including access and accommodation? Does the course include attention to highlighting the contributions of a diverse exemplars of scientists?

Wizard Outcome 2 – Outcomes

Learning Activities: Does the course include opportunities for students to identify, reflect on, and strategize actions to achieve the best short- and long-term outcomes for all groups of science stakeholders? Are students engaged with how possible actions balance the short and long-term outcomes, opportunity costs, cultural costs, etc. for everyone involved? Are there life-cycle costs to be considered? Are outcomes reversible? Is it clear to students who benefits and how? Are there issues of sustainability involved? Does the course give attention to examination of examples of unintended outcomes or competing outcomes? Do students engage with the potential of predicting the best possible short- and long-term outcomes using models, including climate models, disease transmission models and/or habitat suitability models, game-theoretic models, food production models, conservation and biodiversity practices?

Learning Assessments: Does the course provide assessments that allow students to use data tables, visualizations, and/or academic literature to compare and contrast or predict short- and long-term outcomes and benefits? Do the assessments created lead to accurate conclusions about student learning outcomes for all groups, including minoritized groups?

Pedagogy: Has the instructor employed the appropriate pedagogies that allow students to consider the best possible short- and long-term outcomes in the decisions they consider? Does the instructor guide students to metacognitively analyze the outcomes at which they have arrived and decide that they have come to the best conclusion? Does the instructor model reflexive process in organizing the course to enhance the short-term and long term learning outcomes for students?

Wizard Outcome 3 – Responsibilities

Learning Activities: Does the course include opportunities for students to enact their responsibility toward their development as science literate citizens and practitioners? Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider what duties and/or obligations apply to them as science learners and as members of scientific communities? Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider the ethical implications of experimental design, use of animal or human subjects? Are there opportunities for students to acknowledge their responsibility to understand the impact of research on the communities where it is performed and the long term impact of discoveries on ecosystems, communities, and society?

Learning Assessments: Does the course include assessments/evaluations of student competency in identifying, describing and practicing these obligations? Does the course include assessments that allow students to reflect on their sense of ownership for the original work they produce as learners? Does the course include assessments that allow students to reflect on their understanding of the importance of considering the ethical implications of biomedical research and experimental design?

Pedagogy: Does the instructor give students opportunities to take ownership of their learning? Does the instructor instill a sense of responsibility in students about the work they produce? Does the instructor accept that students will make choices about the quality of work they produce? Does the instructor create learning environment that promotes accountability, collaboration, and co-construction?

Wizard Outcome 4 – Character

Learning activities: Does the course include opportunities for students to reflect on how personal attributes and values factor into STEM practice? Do students have opportunities to practice applying their values and experiences in evaluating the impact of science in society? What exercises does the course provide for students to explore their ideal selves in the context of the life sciences? Does the course provide opportunities for students to acknowledge and respect values and identities different from their own? Does the course provide opportunities for students to weigh decisions that challenge their value systems?

Learning assessments: Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their character development and science identity? Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate how they contribute personal values and attributes to their science identities and as they participate in the local learning community of the course? Are students required to demonstrate self-reflective processes in evaluating bioscience in society? Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability to integrate multiple values into evaluation and decision making in a scientific context?

Pedagogy: Does the course include demonstration of character development for the instructor, perhaps through adoption of some pedagogical best practice? Does the instructor demonstrate by example how to ground scientific analysis and decision making in the context of personal values? Does the instructor actively model awareness and care in acknowledging the multiplicity and intersectionality of values and identities represented in the class? Does the instructor expand opportunities for individual learners to express their values, attributes, and identities?

Wizard Outcome 5 – Liberty

Learning Activities: Does the course allow for the discussion of multiple perspectives on science topics? Does the course discuss the importance of autonomy and consent in relation to scientific research and practice (e.g., IRB, tribal sovereignty)? Does the course require students to explore the tensions between personal freedoms and scientific priorities (e.g., requiring vaccines to stop the spread of a pandemic)? Does the course introduce issues around the role of consent in canonical bioscience examples (e.g., bodily autonomy, organ donation, experimentation in Nazi Germany, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments)? Does the course present examples of historic and current violations of personal liberties in bioscience (e.g., gay conversion therapy, sharing of biodata)? Does the course allow for the discussion of how science can be liberatory?

Learning Assessments: Does the course provide students with the agency to decide formats and topics of assignments? Are course assessments transparent with regards to purpose? Are rubrics and examples provided? Can students demonstrate competence in multiple ways? Are there cases, such as dissections, where students are allowed to choose alternative assignments if they are uncomfortable participating?

Pedagogy: Does the course allow students to feel that they can bring their whole selves? To what extent are students compelled to participate versus being encouraged to participate? Does the instructor bring in examples of current events in science where questions of autonomy, consent, and personal freedom are at issue?

Wizard Outcome 6 – Empathy

Learning Activities: Does the course include different ways of knowing and being that promote empathy? Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider the issues, needs, and concerns of others, particularly marginalized groups? Does the course provide experiences where students can see and come to know different perspectives from the viewpoint of other cultures, ideologies, social and scientific identities? Does the course include opportunities for deep self-reflection and dialogue? Does the course provide experiences where students begin to understand and care about the impact that science has on humans, animals, and the environment? Does the course provide opportunities for students to examine their own biases and assumptions? Does the course encourage students to be curious how others view and engage with science?

Learning Assessments: Does the course provide assessments that challenge students to understand the perspective of others and how they feel about science? Does the course assess how students reflect on their experiences of interacting with and understanding different perspectives from the viewpoint of other cultures, ideologies, and social identities? Does the course assess the process by which students examine their own biases and assumptions?

Pedagogy: Does the course include opportunities for the instructor to model empathy? Does the instructor allow for flexibility in their syllabus in terms of deadlines, accommodations, and assignment formats? Does the instructor make sure to include and discuss campus and local resources? Does the instructor allow for discussion of the affective in science? Does the instructor present information from a variety of perspectives, especially including marginalized groups?

Wizard Outcome 7 – Authority

Learning activities: Does the course include opportunities for students to engage with the expectations of legitimate authorities associated with the scientific issue (e.g., review boards such as IRB and IUCUC, health and safety guidance, scientific experts, government agencies, legal stakeholders, religious entities)? Can the students express their understanding of the need for guidelines and rules (e.g., gene editing, genetically modified crops), and do they have the opportunity to practice creating guidance for group interactions (e.g., roles and expectations during group activities)? What opportunities do the students have for creating governance within their learning communities? Are there opportunities for students to explore the potential for human rights violations in the absence of legitimate scientific authority (e.g. forced sterilization of minoritized peoples as “experimentation”)? Does the course include opportunities for discussions about power and privilege in science?

Learning assessments: Does the course include assessment of students’ understanding of the role of authority in forming relevant regulation, laws, and/or policies? Can students articulate the necessity of authority in guiding ethical practices in science, and conversely, can they articulate the adverse outcomes that can result from deregulation of ethical scientific authority? Is there opportunity to evaluate students’ understanding of whether an authority is legitimate? Is there opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding of how power and privilege are enacted in science?

Pedagogy: Does the instructor employ pedagogical techniques that allow students to actively engage with the role of authority in promoting science knowledge and applications? Does the instructor model adherence to the rules and regulations of the classroom (i.e., as established in the syllabus) and the campus, while also allowing deliberative or discursive democracy?

Wizard Outcome 8 – Rights

Learning activities: Does the course include opportunities for students to engage with questions, topics, or controversies centered on human, animal, and legal rights with regard to scientific practice? Does the course allow for the discussion of what rights apply, if any, in real-word examples related to issues such as the development of biotechnology, genetic editing and/or modification technologies, sustainability investments, climate change effects and mitigation, or environmental impacts? Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider the rights of Indigenous peoples with respect to science conducted on their lands, or with resources obtained from their lands? Does the course include opportunities for students to explore the rights of human subjects in biomedical research? Does the course include opportunities for students to reflect on the rights of non-majority groups in their interactions with the science enterprise? Does the course allow students to examine cases where the rights of different groups are in conflict?

Learning assessments: Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of the legal and innate rights of different societal stakeholder groups with respect to the research and applied activities of science? Does the course involve assessments of students’ knowledge or understanding of animal rights related to biological research? Are learning assessments constructed in a way to acknowledge the rights of students?

Pedagogy: Does the instructor employ pedagogical techniques that are sensitive to the rights of students? Does the instructor use teaching approaches that allow students to decide whether the rights of one group were upheld or violated (e.g., enthobotanical expeditions on tribal/Indigenous lands, experimental drug testing using only majority groups, commercialized use of natural products at the cost of environmental quality)? During labs and demonstrations, are living organisms treated with their due rights? Do approaches to teaching highlight the rights of both the students and instructor, and demonstrate reasonable resolutions where rights may be in conflict?

Demonstrative Example

Read more about the ERI and an example of its use within the context of a life science course. Using one of the ERI outcomes (e.g., empathy), we demonstrate how instructors can use the Wizard to inform their course content, activities, and pedagogy.

Re-centering Ethical Reasoning in Life Science Using an Ethical Reasoning Instrumentâ„¢(ERI)

Cynthia Bauerle, James Madison University; Laura Bottomley, North Carolina State University; Carrie Hall, University of New Hampshire-Main Campus; Daniel Howard, University of New Hampshire-Main Campus; Lisette Torres-Gerald, Nebraska Wesleyan University

Summary

Our Ethical Reasoning InstrumentTM (ERI) wizard is a process instrument that provides a way to acknowledge the context for curricular development in the life sciences to include value context, ethical context, epistemology/positionality, and pedagogy, using the “Eight Key Questions” frame developed at James Madison University as a guide. The Instrument below leads course/activity designers through a series of questions that has them consider the eight questions in each of the three dimensions of student activities, assessment and pedagogy.

ERI Wizard Design and Philosophy

Along with the “Eight Key Questions,” the ERI incorporates elements of the foundational, meta, and humanistic knowledge framework. The foundational knowledge that our product will address crosses disciplinary boundaries, accounts for cultural differences, and varies by user. The product itself will extract and identify the relevant ethical framework irrespective of discipline by guiding the user to examine their own values framework.

The meta knowledge that our product will address includes collaboration and communication about how we make ethical decisions in science, problem-solve, and critically reflect on the potential consequences of those decisions. It also includes ethical behavior, reasoning, and decision-making in ways that guide learning and pedagogy.

The humanistic knowledge that our product will address includes acknowledging various epistemologies informed by our different backgrounds and social identities; understanding that science is not value-neutral; incorporating relationship-building and intentionality; and that humanistic knowledge changes over time, is dynamic, and may mean different things for different people. Users of this instrument will be able to write learning objectives about how their students will apply humanistic knowledge in their assignments and products.

Assessment

Outcomes will be assessed through a critical discourse analysis (Fairclough & Wodak, 1997; Van Dijk, 2001) of syllabi using Wizard Outcomes as thematic categories. Faculty members will also be given a survey to assess whether the ERI Wizard is valuable, easy to use, and is effective in achieving student learning outcomes. A sub-set of faculty members will be interviewed before and after course development through semi-structured interviews to get a more intimate description of their experience with using the ERI.

ERI: The Ethical Reasoning InstrumentTM

Instructions: The Ethical Reasoning Instrument (ERI) rests on the premise that the ethical reasoning practice includes eight distinct dimensions of awareness and practice. The ERI provides a way for you to approach formal course design through intentional mapping of these dimensions across the activities, assessments and pedagogy of the course. The instrument provides a formal path for you to follow to build your curricular map.

Under each wizard outcome, consider each question within the context of the course you are designing or revising. We encourage you to complete the entire instrument by responding to each question, understanding that some may be more or less relevant to your circumstance given the subject, level and curricular context for the course. You may not elect to use all eight dimensions in your course, but setting a goal of implementing two or three may be appropriate. If your response is ‘Yes,’ please use the space provided to describe the planned course element and reflect on how it integrates that dimension into the course. If you find that you have responded ‘No’ to all of the questions in an Outcome section, you may want to think about ways you could infuse that element into your course in the space provided.

1. Wizard Outcome 1 – Fairness

1a: Learning Activities

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to practice just and equitable science by considering how biological research questions are impacted by the culture, ethnicity and gender of the scientists who ask them?

YES or NO Does the course include examination of how research in biology may affect Indigenous populations?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to learn about inequities in science and the consequences of ignoring inequities in the practice of science?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

1b: Learning Assessments 

YES or NO Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of and address inequity in science?

YES or NO Are learning assessments constructed in a way to ensure equity and fairness for learners?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

1c: Pedagogy 

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for the instructor to model just and equitable science?

YES or NO Does the course include attention to principles of universal design of learning, including access and accommodation?

YES or NO Does the course include attention to highlighting the contributions of a diverse exemplars of scientists?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

2. Wizard Outcome 2 – Outcomes

2a: Learning Activities 

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to identify, reflect on, and strategize actions to achieve the best short- and long-term outcomes for all groups of science stakeholders?

YES or NO Are students engaged with how possible actions balance the short and long-term outcomes, opportunity costs, cultural costs, etc. for everyone involved?

YES or NO Are there life-cycle costs to be considered?

YES or NO Are outcomes reversible?

YES or NO Is it clear to students who benefits and how?

YES or NO Are there issues of sustainability involved?

YES or NO Does the course give attention to examination of examples of unintended outcomes or competing outcomes?

YES or NO Do students engage with the potential of predicting the best possible short- and long-term outcomes using models, including climate models, disease transmission models and/or habitat suitability models, game-theoretic models, food production models, conservation and biodiversity practices?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

2b: Learning Assessments 

YES or NO Does the course provide assessments that allow students to use data tables, visualizations, and/or academic literature to compare and contrast or predict short- and long-term outcomes and benefits?

YES or NO Do the assessments created lead to accurate conclusions about student learning outcomes for all groups, including minoritized groups?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

2c: Pedagogy

YES or NO Has the instructor employed the appropriate pedagogies that allow students to consider the best possible short- and long-term outcomes in the decisions they consider?

YES or NO Does the instructor guide students to metacognitively analyze the outcomes at which they have arrived and decide that they have come to the best conclusion?

YES or NO Does the instructor model reflexive process in organizing the course to enhance the short-term and long term learning outcomes for students?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

3. Wizard Outcome 3 – Responsibilities

3a: Learning Activities 

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to enact their responsibility toward their development as science literate citizens and practitioners?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider what duties and/or obligations apply to them as science learners and as members of scientific communities?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider the ethical implications of experimental design, use of animal or human subjects?

YES or NO Are there opportunities for students to acknowledge their responsibility to understand the impact of research on the communities where it is performed and the long term impact of discoveries on ecosystems, communities, and society?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

3b: Learning Assessments

YES or NO Does the course include assessments/evaluations of student competency in identifying, describing and practicing these obligations?

YES or NO Does the course include assessments that allow students to reflect on their sense of ownership for the original work they produce as learners?

YES or NO Does the course include assessments that allow students to reflect on their understanding of the importance of considering the ethical implications of biomedical research and experimental design?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

3c: Pedagogy

YES or NO Does the instructor give students opportunities to take ownership of their learning?

YES or NO Does the instructor instill a sense of responsibility in students about the work they produce? Does the instructor accept that students will make choices about the quality of work they produce?

YES or NO Does the instructor create learning environment that promotes accountability, collaboration, and co-construction?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

4. Wizard Outcome 4 – Character

4a: Learning activities

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to reflect on how personal attributes and values factor into STEM practice?

YES or NO Do students have opportunities to practice applying their values and experiences in evaluating the impact of science in society?

YES or NO What exercises does the course provide for students to explore their ideal selves in the context of the life sciences?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to acknowledge and respect values and identities different from their own?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to weigh decisions that challenge their value systems?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

4b: Learning assessments

YES or NO Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their character development and science identity?

YES or NO Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate how they contribute personal values and attributes to their science identities and as they participate in the local learning community of the course?

YES or NO Are students required to demonstrate self-reflective processes in evaluating bioscience in society?

YES or NO Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability to integrate multiple values into evaluation and decision making in a scientific context?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

4c: Pedagogy

YES or NO Does the course include demonstration of character development for the instructor, perhaps through adoption of some pedagogical best practice?

YES or NO Does the instructor demonstrate by example how to ground scientific analysis and decision making in the context of personal values?

YES or NO Does the instructor actively model awareness and care in acknowledging the multiplicity and intersectionality of values and identities represented in the class?

YES or NO Does the instructor expand opportunities for individual learners to express their values, attributes, and identities?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

5. Wizard Outcome 5 – Liberty

5a: Learning activities

YES or NO Does the course allow for the discussion of multiple perspectives on science topics?

YES or NO Does the course discuss the importance of autonomy and consent in relation to scientific research and practice (e.g., IRB, tribal sovereignty)?

YES or NO Does the course require students to explore the tensions between personal freedoms and scientific priorities (e.g., requiring vaccines to stop the spread of a pandemic)?

YES or NO Does the course introduce issues around the role of consent in canonical bioscience examples (e.g., bodily autonomy, organ donation, experimentation in Nazi Germany, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments)?

YES or NO Does the course present examples of historic and current violations of personal liberties in bioscience (e.g., gay conversion therapy, sharing of biodata)?

YES or NO Does the course allow for the discussion of how science can be liberatory?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

5b: Learning Assessments

YES or NO Does the course provide students with the agency to decide formats and topics of assignments? Are course assessments transparent with regards to purpose?

YES or NO Are rubrics and examples provided? Can students demonstrate competence in multiple ways?

YES or NO Are there cases, such as dissections, where students are allowed to choose alternative assignments if they are uncomfortable participating?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

5c: Pedagogy 

YES or NO Does the course allow students to feel that they can bring their whole selves?

YES or NO To what extent are students compelled to participate versus being encouraged to participate?

YES or NO Does the instructor bring in examples of current events in science where questions of autonomy, consent, and personal freedom are at issue?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

6. Wizard Outcome 6 – Empathy

6a: Learning Activities: 

YES or NO Does the course include different ways of knowing and being that promote empathy?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider the issues, needs, and concerns of others, particularly marginalized groups?

YES or NO Does the course provide experiences where students can see and come to know different perspectives from the viewpoint of other cultures, ideologies, social and scientific identities?

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for deep self-reflection and dialogue?

YES or NO Does the course provide experiences where students begin to understand and care about the impact that science has on humans, animals, and the environment?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to examine their own biases and assumptions?

YES or NO Does the course encourage students to be curious how others view and engage with science?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

6b: Learning Assessments: 

YES or NO Does the course provide assessments that challenge students to understand the perspective of others and how they feel about science?

YES or NO Does the course assess how students reflect on their experiences of interacting with and understanding different perspectives from the viewpoint of other cultures, ideologies, and social identities?

YES or NO Does the course assess the process by which students examine their own biases and assumptions?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

6c: Pedagogy: 

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for the instructor to model empathy?

YES or NO Does the instructor allow for flexibility in their syllabus in terms of deadlines, accommodations, and assignment formats?

YES or NO Does the instructor make sure to include and discuss campus and local resources? Does the instructor allow for discussion of the affective in science?

YES or NO Does the instructor present information from a variety of perspectives, especially including marginalized groups?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

7. Wizard Outcome 7 – Authority

7a: Learning activities:

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to engage with the expectations of legitimate authorities associated with the scientific issue (e.g., review boards such as IRB and IUCUC, health and safety guidance, scientific experts, government agencies, legal stakeholders, religious entities)?

YES or NO Can the students express their understanding of the need for guidelines and rules (e.g., gene editing, genetically modified crops), and do they have the opportunity to practice creating guidance for group interactions (e.g., roles and expectations during group activities)?

YES or NO What opportunities do the students have for creating governance within their learning communities?

YES or NO Are there opportunities for students to explore the potential for human rights violations in the absence of legitimate scientific authority (e.g. forced sterilization of minoritized peoples as “experimentation”)?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

7b: Learning assessments:

YES or NO Does the course include assessment of students understanding of the role of authority in forming relevant regulation, laws and/or policies?

YES or NO Can students articulate the necessity of authority in guiding ethical practice of science, and conversely, can they articulate the adverse outcomes that can result from deregulation of ethical scientific authority?

YES or NO Is there opportunity to evaluate students’ understanding of whether an authority is legitimate?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

7c: Pedagogy:

YES or NO Does the instructor employ pedagogical techniques that allow students to actively engage with the role of authority in promoting science knowledge and applications?

YES or NO Does the instructor model adherence to the rules and regulations of the classroom (i.e. as established in the syllabus) and the campus, while also allowing deliberative or discursive democracy?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

8. Wizard Outcome 8 – Rights

8a: Learning activities: 

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to engage with questions, topics or controversies centered on human, animal, and legal rights with regard to scientific practice?

YES or NO Does the course allow for the discussion of what rights apply, if any, in real-word examples related to issues such as the development of biotechnology, genetic editing and/or modification technologies, sustainability investments, climate change effects and mitigation, or environmental impacts?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to consider the rights of Indigenous peoples with respect to science conducted on their lands, or with resources obtained from their lands?

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to explore the rights of human subjects in biomedical research?

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to reflect on the rights of non-majority groups in their interactions with the science enterprise?

YES or NO Does the course allow students to examine cases where the rights of different groups are in conflict?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

8b: Learning assessments: 

YES or NO Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of the legal and innate rights of different societal stakeholder groups with respect to the research and applied activities of science?

YES or NO Does the course involve assessments of students’ knowledge or understanding of animal rights related to biological research?

YES or NO Are learning assessments constructed in a way to acknowledge the rights of students?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

8c: Pedagogy: 

YES or NO Does the instructor employ pedagogical techniques that are sensitive to the rights of students?

YES or NO Does the instructor use teaching approaches that allow students to decide whether the rights of one group were upheld or violated (e.g. enthobotanical expeditions on tribal/Indigenous lands, experimental drug testing using only majority groups, commercialized use of natural products at the cost of environmental quality)?

YES or NO During labs and demonstrations, are living organisms treated with their due rights?

YES or NO Do approaches to teaching highlight the rights of both the students and instructor, and demonstrate reasonable resolutions where rights may be in conflict?

If the answer to any of these questions is Yes, please describe how the course implements these elements in the space below:

If you answered No to all of these, are there ways that this focal dimension of ethic reasoning can be infused into your class? Explain:

Example of Translating the ERI to Another Discipline: Engineering

Wizard Outcome 1 – Fairness

1a: Learning Activities

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to practice just and equitable practice of engineering by considering how engineering design solutions are impacted by the culture, ethnicity and gender of the engineers who create them?

YES or NO Does the course include examination of how selected designs and/or implementations may affect Indigenous populations and other marginalized peoples (e.g., effects of red-lining)?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to learn about the effects of inequities in engineering design (e.g., cost, accessibility, not testing on diverse populations) and the consequences of ignoring inequities in the course of engineering practice?

1b: Learning assessments

YES or NO Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of and address inequity in the practice of engineering?

YES or NO Are learning assessments constructed in a way to ensure equity and fairness for learners?

1c: Pedagogy

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for the instructor to model just and equitable engineering practice?

YES or NO Does the course include attention to principles of universal design of learning, including access and accommodation?

YES or NO Does the course include attention to highlighting the contributions of diverse exemplars of engineers?

Wizard Outcome 4 – Character

4a: Learning activities: 

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to reflect on how personal attributes and values factor into STEM practice?

YES or NO Do students have opportunities to practice applying their values and experiences in evaluating the impact of engineering in society?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to engage in teamwork and then reflect on their own behavior?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to acknowledge and respect values and identities different from their own?

YES or NO Does the course provide opportunities for students to weigh decisions that challenge their value systems?

4b: Learning assessments

YES or NO Does the course include assessments that allow students to demonstrate their ability to act productively on teams?

YES or NO Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate how they contribute personal values and attributes to their engineering identities and as they participate in the local learning community of the course?

YES or NO Are students required to demonstrate self-reflective processes in evaluating engineering in society?

YES or NO Are there opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability to integrate multiple values into evaluation and decision making in an engineering context?

YES or NO Are students provided the opportunity and guidance to assess their teammates on dimensions of teamwork?

4c: Pedagogy 

YES or NO Does the course include demonstration of character development for the instructor, perhaps through adoption of some pedagogical best practice?

YES or NO Does the instructor demonstrate by example how to ground engineering analysis and decision making in the context of personal values?

YES or NO Does the instructor actively model awareness and care in acknowledging the multiplicity and intersectionality of values and identities represented in the class?

YES or NO Does the instructor expand opportunities for individual learners to express their values, attributes, and identities?

Wizard Outcome 7 – Authority

7a: Learning activities 

YES or NO Does the course include opportunities for students to engage with the expectations of legitimate authorities associated with engineering, as appropriate (e.g., the National Society of Professional Engineers Code of Ethics, the IEEE Code of Ethics, engineering experts, government agencies, legal stakeholders, standards agencies)?

YES or NO Can the students express their understanding of the need for guidelines and rules (e.g., transfer of technology, genetically modified crops), and do they have the opportunity to practice creating guidance for team interactions (e.g., roles and expectations during team projects and activities)?

YES or NO What opportunities do the students have for creating governance within their learning communities?

YES or NO Are there opportunities for students to explore the potential for human rights violations in the absence of legitimate authority (e.g., equitable disaster relief distribution)?

7b: Learning assessments:

YES or NO Does the course include assessment of students understanding of the role of authority in forming relevant regulation, laws and/or policies (e.g., how standards for the Internet were created)? Can students articulate the necessity of authority in guiding ethical engineering practice, and conversely, can they articulate the adverse outcomes that can result from deregulation of authority? Is there opportunity to evaluate students’ understanding of whether an authority is legitimate (e.g., analysis of sources)?

7c: Pedagogy

YES or NO Does the instructor employ pedagogical techniques that allow students to actively engage with the role of authority in promoting engineering knowledge and applications (e.g., how ABET policies impact classroom content)?

YES or NO Does the instructor model adherence to the rules and regulations of the classroom (i.e. as established in the syllabus) and the campus, while also allowing deliberative or discursive democracy?

References and Resources

The Eight Key Questions (8KQ) at James Madison University – https://www.jmu.edu/ethicalreasoning/8-key-questions.shtml

Fairclough, N. L., & Wodak, R. (1997). Critical discourse analysis. In T. A. van Dijk (Ed.), Discourse Studies: A multidisciplinary introduction Vol. 2 – Discourse as social interaction(pp. 258-284). London: Sage.

Kohlberg, L. (1976). Moral stages and moralization: The cognitive-developmental approach. In T. Likona (Ed.), Moral development and behavior. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.

Kohlberg, L. (1981). Essays on moral development: Moral stages and the idea of justice (Vol.1). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Kohlberg, L. (1984). Essays on moral development: The philosophy of moral development: Moral stages and the idea of justice(Vol. 1). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

Linder, G.F., Ames, A.J., Hawk, W.J., Pyle, L.K., Fulcher, K.H., & Early, C.E. (2019). Teaching ethical reasoning: Program design and initial outcomes of Ethical Reasoning in Action, a university-wide ethical reasoning program. Teaching Ethics, Online First. doi: 10.5840/tej202081174

Mayhew, M.J., & Engberg, M.E. (2010). Diversity and moral reasoning: How negative diverse peer interactions affect the development of moral reasoning in undergraduate students. The Journal of Higher Education81(4), 459-488.

Moreland, C., & Leach, M.M. (2001). The relationship between Black racial identity and moral development. Journal of Black Psychology27(3), 255-271.

Van Dijk, T.A. (2001). Critical Discourse Analysis. In D. Tannen, D. Schiffrin, & H. Hamilton (Eds). Handbook of Discourse Analysis(pp. 352–71). New York: John Wiley & Sons.


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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant #1935479: Workshop on the Substance of STEM Education. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.