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Teaching Ethics

Volume 19, Issue 2, Fall 2019

G. Fletcher Linder, Allison J. Ames, William J. Hawk, Lori K. Pyle, Keston H. Fulcher, Christian E. Early
Pages 147-170

Teaching Ethical Reasoning
Program Design and Initial Outcomes of Ethical Reasoning in Action, a University-wide Ethical Reasoning Program

This article presents evidence supporting the claim that ethical reasoning is a skill that can be taught and assessed. We propose a working definition of ethical reasoning as 1) the ability to identify, analyze, and weigh moral aspects of a particular situation, and 2) to make decisions that are informed and warranted by the moral investigation. The evidence consists of a description of an ethical reasoning education program—Ethical Reasoning in Action (ERiA)—designed to increase ethical reasoning skills in a variety of situations and areas of life. ERiA is housed at a public, major comprehensive U.S. university—James Madison University—and assessment of the program focuses on interventions delivered prior to and during orientation for incoming first-year students. Findings indicate that the interventions measurably enhance the ability of undergraduate students to reason ethically. ERiA’s competency-targeted program and positive student learning outcomes offers a promising model for higher education ethics programs seeking to connect classroom learning in ethics to decision-making in everyday life.

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