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Sci Eng Ethics. 2005 Jul;11(3):413-29.

Making good use of online case study materials.

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  • 1Division of Educational Psychology, Research, and Evaluation, University of Missouri-St Louis, One University Boul. MH 469, St. Louis, MO 63121, USA.


Web-based access to engaging instructional materials for SEE instruction represents an increasingly viable and attractive opportunity for educators. This paper will review research findings that demonstrate important differences in more experienced and novice ethical responses to engaging online materials, including authentic cases, codes, and commentaries. Results demonstrate that experienced ethical thinkers are more likely than novices to appeal to middle level principles that identify professional role-specific obligations (RSO); to make greater use of professional knowledge in order to recognize moral issues and relevant facts; and to employ more 'contextually sensitive' reasoning strategies when crafting resolutions to moral problems--e.g., identify alternative moral issues, assess the moral implications of actions, and provide alternative practical resolutions to conflicts. These findings suggest that when effectively integrated into SEE courses, authentic instructional materials have the potential to effectively challenge students and enhance student learning. However, there is evidence that the uses and benefits of these materials are not well understood. In the second part of this paper, five research-based instructional principles will be identified and discussed that can help SEE instructors better understand how to effectively integrate these materials into their courses.

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