Category Archives: Ethics Modules

Applied Linguistic Research

by Scott Jarvis

Course Overview

The research methods course is designed to train second-year MA students to conduct original empirical research in applied linguistics (e.g., speech perception, sociolinguistics, second language acquisition, language testing, language teaching methods). The course emphasizes quantitative experimental research, but also gives some attention to other types of empirical research, including qualitative designs. By the end of the course, each student submits a detailed research proposal that serves as the basis for their final research project (either a thesis or a proseminar research project).

Need for an ethics module

Empirical research-especially on human subjects-involves a number of ethical challenges that students need to be aware of and learn to address. At its core, this involves showing proper respect to the people who participate in research, minimizing the study’s potential negative effects on them, and maximizing the potential benefits of their participation. At a more abstract level, research ethics involves a rigorous and committed pursuit of the truth in the chosen area of inquiry, as well as a concerted effort to make useful and relevant contributions to one’s field of knowledge. These are the components of research ethics that will be emphasized in the present module. The specific code of ethics that will be presented is the set of guidelines produced by OU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB)-the impartial oversight committee that will approve or reject the students’ research proposals on the basis of ethical considerations.

Ethics module overview

Ethical issues pervade all phases of research, from reviewing previous research to drawing implications from one’s own results. Perhaps the most important ethical issues relate to the collection of data, and this is what the IRB guidelines mainly refer to. In the research methods course I will discuss ethical issues related to all phases of a research project, and will begin with a three-day ethics module that focuses on the ethics of data collection.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the ethics module, students should

  1. be aware of ethical challenges in applied linguistics research
  2. be able to identify and explain ethical problems in existing applied linguistics studies and research proposals

  3. understand the need for a code of ethics and an impartial oversight committee (i.e., IRB)
  4. know the core elements of the IRB guidelines (i.e., human subjects research code of ethics)
  5. 5. be able to write their own research proposal (to be submitted to the IRB) that
    1. acknowledges the ethical challenges they will face while collecting data
    2. provides a thoughtful rationale for how ethical problems will be dealt with so that the potential negative effects of the study are minimized and the potential positive effects are maximized.

Ethics Module Plan

Day 1 (which is Week 2, Day 1 in the syllabus):

- task where students are asked to design a “good study” for investigating the nature of, e.g., responses to complaints by restaurant management

- discussion of the above research design from a participant’s point of view

- discussion of components of a “good study”

- discussion of past applied linguistics studies that have run into ethical problems (and violate one or more components of a “good study”)

- discussion of how/whether these studies could be modified to make them more acceptable

- discussion of the need for a code of ethics for researchers

- discussion of the need for an impartial oversight committee to make sure that researchers follow the code

- homework: IRB online training module

Day 2 (i.e., Week 2, Day 2 in the syllabus)

- debriefing of the IRB training module assignment

- brainstorming of ethical problems related to data collection

-informed consent




- discussion of the IRB guidelines (i.e., code of ethics)

- discussion of the IRB research proposal form

- homework: preliminary draft of an IRB research proposal

Day 3 (i.e., Week 3, Day 1 in the syllabus)

- IRB committee simulation

- discussion of reasons why past IRB proposals have been rejected

- continuation of IRB committee simulation


Ethics, Aesthetics, and Canon Formation: A Look at Israeli and Jewish American Literature

by Marilyn Atlas

(Possible) Required Texts: Michael Boylan, Basic Ethics; Caryl Phillips, The Nature of Blood, Jules Chametzky, Hon Felstiner, Hilene Flanzbaum, Kathryn Hellerstein, Jewish American Literature; A.B. Yehoshua, The Liberated Bride; Miriyam Glazer, Dreaming the Actual:  Contemporary Fiction and Poetry by Israeli Women Writers;

Course Description.  We’ll be trying to understand how writing and memory functions in Israeli and Jewish American writing after Auschwitz and how this effects canon formation (I might include some earlier Jewish American voices for contrast  – - how did the ethical questions change after WWII?) First we will try to understand the different ways philosophers have thought about ethics and then we will look at some twentieth century texts and try to understand the relationship between form and ideas in post World War II literature. We will take a look at the way narration, characterization, image, and archetypes work in several pieces of literature. What gets put into the canon, what gets written about, what is avoided, why, and by whom?

Students will be asked to read and review some of these texts:

Yerach Gover, Zionism: The Limits of Moral Discourse in Israeli Hebrew Fiction; Hannan Hever,Producing the Modern Hebrew Canon:  Nation Building and Minority Discourse; Efraim Sider,Breaking Crystal: Writing and Memory After Auschwitz; Valery Kennedy, Edward Said:  A Critical Introduction.

Here are some authors I’ll consider for the course:

  • Shmuel Yosef Agnon
  • Avraham Mapu
  • Haim Nachman Bialik
  • Shaul Tchernickousky
  • Rachel Bluestein
  • Haim Hazaz
  • Sami Michael
  • Aharon Megged
  • David Grossman
  • Avraham Shlonsky
  • Nathan Alterman
  • Lea Goldberg
  • Ephraim Kishon
  • Amoz Oz
  • Meir Shalev
  • Zeruya Shalev
  • Yehuda Amichai
  • Nathan Zach
  • Cynthia Ozick
  • Philip Roth
  • Orhan Pamuk
  • Tova Mirvis
  • Michal Chabon
  • Aharon Megged
  • Aharon Appelfeld
  • Henry Roth
  • Michael Gold
  • Zvi Jagendorf
  • Allen Hoffman

Learning Outcomes:

1.To Understand major ethical theories and their contribution to applied ethics.

2. To understand the conflict among ethical theories and applications

3. To understand the implications of canon formation.

4. To understand what is at stake in a complex culture such as Israel (what is at stake for Israelis?  What is at stake for Jewish Americans?)

5. To understand moral relativism and point of view.

6. To understand concepts such as consequences, duty, virtue, and naturalism.

7. To understand a little better the relationship between ethics and religion, identity, ethnicity and leadership.

8. To explore the term “moral courage.”

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Theory and Methods in TEFL

by David Bell


By the end of the course, students will write a set of personal ethical guidelines which will help further facilitate their growth as reflective practitioners in the field of TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages.)


Scenarios and readings which reflect the current ethical concerns in TESOL

Learning Activities

1.             Students will begin by examining the mission statement of TESOL, the professional organization of teachers of English to speakers of other languages, as a way of introducing the notion of ethics.

2.             Throughout the course, I will ask students to post their reactions to a number of scenarios, most of which are derived from the TESOL Mission Statement. On the discussion boards on Blackboard.  I don’t expect to take up too much classroom time with this discussion.

3.             At the end of the course I will ask students to write a list of their own personal ethical guidelines in TESOL with reference to the discussions.


I will make available links to short position statements from TESOL literature which are relevant to the scenarios the students will be asked to respond to.


Given the individual nature of the ethical guidelines and the aim of creating awareness of ethical issues, I do not think it is appropriate to grade this assignment.  I would prefer students to write a brief self-assessment report about how the ethics module helped or didn’t help their development as teachers.

A sample of materials to be used in the module

1.             Here is the Mission Statement of TESOL, the professional organization of teachers of English to speakers of other languages.

2.             Would you describe any of the issues that TESOL values as ethical positions?  Do you agree or disagree with any of these positions?

3.             Can you think of examples of these issues in your classroom teaching?

4.            Are there any ethical positions you would like to add to this mission statement?

TESOL Mission Statement

TESOL’s mission is to ensure excellence in English language teaching to speakers of other languages.

TESOL values

*          professionalism in language education

*          individual language rights

*          accessible, high quality education

*          collaboration in a global community

*          interaction of research and reflective practice for educational improvement

*          respect for diversity and multiculturalism


1.             Individual language rights

You teach English in a college on one of the Aleutian Islands in the Bering Sea. You learn that the indigenous language – Unangan, is slowly dying. The young people you teach would rather speak English as their first language.

Q: How responsible do you feel for helping to contribute to killing off the indigenous language?

2.             Accessible, high quality education

You are teaching English as a second language in Cote d’Ivoire in a public high school.  You learn that that half of the children leave school at the age of 11.  Of those who continue in secondary education, only a small fraction of those students will have a chance to study English.  The students in your class are mainly male and come from a small elite group in society.

3.             Collaboration in a global community

You teach an adult education second language class in a community college in New York.  In your class you have several Muslim students and Jewish students.  You even have a Palestinian and an Israeli Jew.

Q:  Given the composition of your class and your desire to create meaningful communicative discussion opportunities, do engage your students on the issues in the Middle-East or do you avoid the issue completely for fear of opening a can of worms which would create an intolerable classroom situation

4.             Respect for diversity and multiculturalism

You teach English in a university in Japan. You learn that your students are unhappy about your use of first names with them.  Usually, first names are used only in the family or amongst close friends. Your choices are to use their Japanese family names with the honorific san – Fukuda-san, or use the English honorific – Mr. Fukuda. Or you could insist on using first names as this is part of the culture of the target language.

Q:  What would you do in this situation?

Here is one more scenario.  What is your response to this situation and what ethical position could be drawn from your response?

5.    You work for a language school in Indonesia that does mainly company courses and short language training sessions.  The company offers you the following two assignments:

a.    You are to teach a short course in English for specific purposes to a group of sex-workers in Thailand. Their customers are mainly middle-aged American and European males.

b.    You are to teach English for specific purposes to a group customer service workers in a new Bank of America call-center in Indonesia. The existing call-center in Atlanta, Georgia will be outsourced as soon as the Indonesian workers are trained.

Q:  Do you have any qualms about accepting either of the two assignments?

Cummins, Jim, The Ethics of Doublethink: Language Rights and the Bilingual Education Debate, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 13-17.

Hafernik, Johnnie Johnson, Messerschmitt, Dorothy, and Vandrick, Stephanie, Culture, Ethics, Scripts, and Gifts, Vol. 7, No. 2, pp. 11-14.


Technical Writing, Composition, Humanities

by David Bruce

I took the Building Ethics Modules into Courses Workshop primarily because of a problem I have run into recently with students plagiarizing papers. Teaching students what plagiarism is and the consequences of getting caught plagiarizing is apparently not enough to keep students from plagiarizing, so I hope that a module on ethics will help convince students not to plagiarize. In addition, I hope to convince first-year students, who are sometimes not able to handle the freedom that comes with life at college, to attend class on a regular basis. Finally, I wish to include an ethics component in the planning of papers that my students write in ENG 305J: Technical Writing. I wish for them to think about whether what they will write is ethical.

Included in this ethics module you will find ethics questions and how I would answer them. In practice, this material would be gone over in discussion and not everything presented in this ethics module would be presented in class. For example, I sometimes write about contradictions in this ethics module (partly because I know Immanuel Kant was concerned about contradictions), but in class if I were to talk about a contradiction it would be as an interesting consequence of an immoral course of action.



On the first day of class, I will go over the syllabus and then introduce a few ethical rules and questions. Because I don’t want to scare my students with the names of such great ethical thinkers as Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill, I will use the great ethical thinker who was my mother. I will introduce Mama Bruce’s ethical rules and ethical questions, then illustrate how to use the ethical questions with an easy example such as determining whether rape is moral. Then in class discussion we will determine whether such teacher expectations as that students should attend class regularly are morally justifiable.

Mama Bruce’s Ethical Rules

The rules of ethics are T-shirt simple, and chances are, your mother is an expert in ethics. I know that my mother was. Here are Mama Bruce’s T-shirt simple ethical rules:

• If you are allowed to do it, everyone (in a similar position to yours) should be allowed to do it.

• Treat other people the way that you want to be treated.

• Do actions that have good consequences.

Mama Bruce’s Ethical Questions

Along with the ethical rules go ethical questions. These are questions that a person can ask when determining whether an action that person is thinking of doing is moral:

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing?

An Example of Mama Bruce’s Ethical Questions In Action

Of course, ethics systems should give the correct answer to the easy questions. For example, is rape moral? All would agree that rape is immoral, but let’s see how we can use Mama Bruce’s ethical questions to determine whether rape is moral. Let’s say that a man is wondering whether it is morally permissible to rape a woman.

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

Suppose every man became a rapist. What would happen? At first, of course, many more rapes would happen, but it is plausible that once women catch on to what is happening, soon a handgun will be in every handbag, self-defense classes for women will be widely available, and women will not travel alone. In other words, heavily armed women will be travelling in packs. (This could make a good science-fiction novel.) Oddly, there is a contradiction here. A man makes the rule “I will rape women” so he can rape women, but if every man follows the rule, soon it will be very difficult — and dangerous — to attempt to rape women.

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

Some men may say, “I would be very happy if a woman were to rape me,” but of course that would not be rape. Rape is unwanted, forced sex, and if a man wants a woman to rape him, that is not rape. The proper way to answer this question is to think of an example of unwanted, forced sex. For example, the man is in a locker room shower, he drops his soap, he bends over — and the guy in back of him gives him an unwanted, forced surprise. In this case, few if any men would want done to them what they are thinking of doing to women. (And if they do want it done to them, once again it is not rape.)

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing?

Some men may point out that some women who have been raped go on to become rape counselors for other women, and/or become experts in self-defense and teach self-defense to other women, and/or volunteer at a 24-hour crisis hotline, etc. These things are good, and they probably would not have happened if the woman were not raped, so aren’t at least some of the effects of rape is this case good? Of course, that is a faulty way of looking at the situation. There are two sets of consequences here, resulting from two different actions. The first action is the rape itself, and the consequences of rape are bad. The rapist commits the rape, the consequences of the rape are bad, and the rapist is responsible for doing the bad action. The second action is the woman’s response to rape. Some women do become experts in self-defense and teach self-defense to other women, and/or volunteer at a 24-hour crisis hotline, etc. They do the action, the consequences of the action are good, and they deserve the credit for doing the good action.

Are This Class’s Expectations Ethical?

On the first day of the class, I will talk about ethics. I will introduce Mama Bruce’s ethical rules and Mama Bruce’s ethical questions, and I will use an example such as rape to show how to properly use the rules and questions. Then I will have the class determine whether my expectations for the students are morally justified. For example: Are students morally obligated to attend class on a regular basis, and if a student signs up for a conference with the teacher, is the student morally obligated to either show up for the conference or to cancel the conference in advance?

• Are students morally obligated to attend class on a regular basis?

Let’s say that a student is thinking about cutting large numbers of classes this quarter.

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

Most students attend Ohio University to get an education; in fact, the purpose of Ohio University is to get an education. What would happen if large numbers of students were to cut large numbers of classes? Certainly, the students would find it more difficult to get an education. In addition, the professors are likely to get very angry and to toughen up the attendance policies for the professors’ courses. There is a contradiction here. The student makes the rule “I will cut large numbers of classes” so that he or she can cut class, but if everyone follows the rule, the result is that the professors will toughen their attendance policies and make it much more difficult for students to cut class.

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

Here the student can think about the teacher. If the student were the teacher, would he or she want lots of students to miss lots of classes? Possibly, an answer would be, “That would be great! If no one ever shows up for class, then I don’t have to teach!” But of course if no one ever shows for class, then the teacher will not have a job for very long. In addition, many students are supported in part by their parents while attending Ohio University. If the student were a parent using their money to send a son or daughter through school, would the student want his or her son or daughter to attend class?

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing?

Of course, we have to think about the consequences for everyone affected by the action. If the student misses lots of classes, then the student will not learn very much. If parents are paying lots of money (perhaps using money that could be used for their retirement) for the student to get a good education, then if the student misses lots of classes, the parents are not getting a good return for their money and perhaps that money should be used for their retirement. Much the same is true of the taxpayers; because Ohio University is a state university, tax money pays for part of the student’s education at Ohio University. If a particular student blows off lots of classes, the taxpayers may very well be unhappy and prefer to use their tax money to support a student who regularly attends class.

• If a student signs up for a conference with the teacher, is the student morally obligated to either show up for the conference or to cancel the conference in advance?

Let’s say that a student in a writing class sets up a conference to have a professor review a paper, then the student decides not to attend the conference and not to cancel the conference in advance. Of course, the student does not want to be punished for missing the conference and not cancelling it in advance.

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

The purpose of a conference is get help from a professor. If everyone were to set up conferences with the professor, then not show up for the conference and not cancel the conference in advance, soon the professor will either set up a penalty for missed conferences or simply not allow any student to set up conferences. There is a contradiction either way here. The student makes the rule “I will miss a conference and not cancel it in advance, and I don’t want to be punished for it,” but if everyone does what the student is thinking of doing, then either the student will be punished for missing the conference or it will be impossible for the student to set up a conference in the first place.

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

Every professor has had the experience of a student setting up a conference, then not attending and not cancelling it in advance. To determine if the student’s action is moral, the student can think of a job interview. Suppose the student were to set up a job interview, drive to the site of the interview, get dressed up, and show up for the interview, only to be told, “Sorry, the person who was going to interview you flew to a meeting on the coast a couple of days ago and won’t be back until next week. Get out.” Would the student consider the interviewer’s action moral?

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing?

One consequence is a very angry professor — a very angry professor who will grade the student’s work and a very angry professor who is unlikely to write a letter of recommendation for or be a mentor to the student.



I will use Mama Bruce’s ethical rules and questions throughout the course as they apply to assignments such as writing resumes and problem-solving communications.

• Is it ethical to exaggerate on resumes?

Let’s say that a student is writing a resume, but is tempted to exaggerate on the resume, doing such things as inflating job titles and taking sole credit for group accomplishments. Is such an action moral?

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

The purpose of a resume is to give your employer evidence that you are capable (you can do the job), responsible (you will do the job — no one needs to look over your shoulder every minute to make sure that you are working), and pleasant (you can get along with your co-workers). If you exaggerate or outright lie on your resume, you may be able to get away with it — as long as other people don’t do the same thing. But if everyone exaggerates on their resume, soon the employers will realize what is happening and they won’t believe your resume. There is a contradiction here. The student forms the rule “I will exaggerate on my resume so that I can have an advantage over other job applicants,” but if everyone does what the student is thinking of doing, then the student will be unable to get an advantage over other job applicants because the potential employers will not believe the student’s resume.

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

If the student were an employer, would the student want potential employees to send him or her resumes listing exaggerated credentials? Or would the student prefer to read honest resumes?

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing?

A possible consequence, of course, is that the student would get the job. It is also possible that the student will not be able to live up to the expectations created by the dishonest resume. After all, a resume can get the student a job, but competent job skills will result in keeping the job. I once had a student who took a course in writing computer programs. She did very poorly in the course, although a computer genius offered to give her and an acquaintance of hers the answer to the final. My student’s acquaintance took up the offer of the computer genius and received an A in the course, and she listed the A on her resume although she had not learned computer programming. My student flunked the course the first time she took it, then she took it again and learned computer programming. Both my student and her acquaintance got jobs, but my student’s acquaintance was quickly fired because she didn’t know computer programming. Therefore, my student made a copy of her paycheck, wrote “Ha! Ha!” on it and sent it to her acquaintance.

• Is it ethical to take credit for someone else’s idea when writing a problem-solving letter?

Let’s say that an employee has been asked to solve a problem at work, and that Maria Smith in Accounting has a really good idea for solving that problem. Should the employee give Maria Smith credit for the idea when the employee writes a memo about solving the problem?

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

If everyone were to take credit for other people’s ideas without giving credit, very soon people would stop sharing ideas because they would be afraid that other people would steal their ideas. There is a contradiction here. The employee makes the rule, “I will steal other people’s ideas so that I will look competent to my employer,” but if everyone does what the employee wants to do, soon it will be impossible to steal other people’s ideas because they won’t share their ideas with you.

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

Would the employee want other people to steal his or her ideas and not give him or her credit?

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing?

Stealing other people’s ideas is likely to lead to a lot of hate and discontent for the thief and for those other people. Employers want employees to get along and to work together to solve problems and make the company profitable. Stealing other people’s ideas is likely to lead to employees not working together to solve problems and make the company profitable.

Other Places I Can Use Ethics In ENG 305J: Technical Writing Or In Other Composition Courses


At various times during the quarter, I can use different ethical questions about written composition. At various times during the quarter, I can show sentences on a transparency and ask students whether the sentences are ethical.

When is it ethical to use the passive voice?

• “Mistakes were made.”

This sentence is from the world of politics, and it is an unethical use of the passive voice. The passive voice is being used here to avoid saying who made the mistakes and to avoid taking responsibility for making mistakes.

• “I have been informed that you have been taking office supplies home each night.”

This sentence can be ethically justified, in my opinion. If someone tells a boss that an employee has been stealing office supplies, and the employer finds out that the charge is justified, then in talking to the guilty employee, the employer is, in my opinion, justified in using the passive voice in order to avoid telling who informed the employer that the employee has been taking office supplies home each night.

Is it ever ethical to use doublespeak?

Here is a definition of doublespeak:

“Doublespeak is language that pretends to communicate but really doesn’t. It is language that makes the bad seem good, the negative appear positive, the unpleasant appear attractive or at least tolerable. Doublespeak is language that avoids or shifts responsibility, language that is at variance with its real or purported meaning. It is language that conceals or prevents thought; rather than extending thought, doublespeak limits it.” — William Lutz, author of Doublespeak

In my opinion, this is an ethical use of doublespeak:

“In the Chemistry Department at Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, Calif., we faculty members stored volatile organic chemicals in a small, old refrigerator. Several times we asked for a new model, only to have the college finance office reject our requests. Eventually, we figured out that the finance people thought we only wanted a new refrigerator for cold drinks and snacks. So a colleague wrote a purchase order replacing the word ‘refrigerator’ with ‘automatic low-temperature maintenance apparatus.’ Our new icebox was quickly delivered.” —Tom Kimler, Reader’s Digest, August 1996

Here are a few sentences that I could show on a transparency:

• After boxer Mike Tyson had been convicted of rape, the Reverend Al Sharpton said, “Mike may have been guilty of being very overly aggressive with his approach to women.”

This is an ethically unjustified use of doublespeak. There is a word for what Mike Tyson was convicted of — rape — and that is the word that we ought to use.

• “We have had a negative patient outcome in Room 222.”

In this use of doublespeak, a nurse tells a doctor that a patient died in a certain room at the hospital. The purpose of the doublespeak is to keep from upsetting patients who may overhear the nurse and doctor, and this use of doublespeak is ethically justified.

• Should “body bags” be called “transfer tubes”?

In the current war in Iraq, body bags have been newly renamed transfer tubes. In my opinion, this is an ethically unjustified use of doublespeak. This use of doublespeak is designed to keep news consumers from being aware of the nature of war, which is that people get killed.

Is it ever ethical to use sexist/racist/discriminatory language?

• “Each customer should take his purchase to the cash register.”

As long as all the customers are male, this sentence is correct. However, if some of the customers are female, then this sentence is making an entire sex invisible, and so the sentence should be revised to read, “All customers should take their purchases to the cash register.”

• “I am a proud member of the Swarm of Dykes.”

Some minority groups will take a word that is normally used as an epithet and turn it into a word that is anything but an epithet. This use of sexist/racist/discriminatory language is justified, in my opinion.



My main reason for taking this workshop on building ethics modules into courses is that I have had a recent rash of plagiarism in my courses at Ohio University. Simply letting students know what plagiarism is and letting them know the consequences of being caught plagiarizing a paper is apparently not enough to keep students from plagiarizing papers. I am hoping that adding an ethical component to my courses will help persuade students not to plagiarize.

I will ask my students the following questions about plagiarism:

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

If everyone plagiarizes papers, the professor will think of another way to have students write papers that are not plagiarized. For example, a professor friend of mine recently stopped giving take-home exams (the answers to which were sometimes plagiarized) and started giving in-class essay exams. There is a contradiction here. The students makes the rule “I will plagiarize my paper,” but if every student follows the rule, soon it will become impossible to plagiarize.

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

Suppose the student writes a truly excellent paper, then later finds that the professor has plagiarized large sections of the paper and published it in a journal. Of course, now the student is unable to publish the paper which the student wrote because the student will be accused of plagiarizing the professor’s paper. Is this fair?

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing?

One consequence, of course, is that the student will learn much less than the student would have learned if the student had actually done the work. It also means that parents and taxpayers are getting a poor return on the money that they are paying for the student’s education. In addition, a teacher who has been overwhelmed with cases of plagiarism may think of leaving the education field in order to pursue a lucrative and exciting career as an international jewel thief.

• When is it ethical to use someone else’s words and ideas?

Of course, the correct answer is when the student gives credit to the other person.

• Suppose someone plagiarizes an excellent communication created by an experienced professional working in the field and that communication receives an A. What happens to the student-written papers that would have normally received an A?

The standard for an A in the course is likely to go up. If the plagiarized paper gets an A, then the student-written papers that would have normally received an A may receive grades of A- or lower.



Of course, I want students to write ethically in their own communications. I have used a Defining Goals/Analyzing Audience Worksheet in my Technical Writing course for years. For one or two papers that students write, I require students to fill the worksheet out for credit. In addition, we fill out the worksheet in class for a couple of cases that we go over in class. In this final section, I include both copies of a few cases that we use in class, and a copy of the worksheet which I have revised to include some information on ethics. Both the case and the worksheet are adapted from materials in Paul Anderson’s Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach.

Case: Announcing the Smoking Ban

Imagine that you are the president of a small company that manufactures fitness exercise equipment. In fact, its name is Fitness Exercise Equipment, Inc. So far, this company does not have a written smoking policy but has allowed employees to smoke whenever and wherever they want. However, a new state law requires all companies above a certain size to have a written smoking policy. This has made you think about the current smoking policy and you have decided to ban smoking in both of the company’s two buildings. You have good reasons for this:

1) It doesn’t make sense for a company devoted to promoting good health to allow smoking all the time and everywhere.

2) You won’t allow smoking in private offices because not everyone has a private office and that policy would not be fair to employees without a private office.

3) It doesn’t make sense to force health-conscious customers and employees to breathe in secondhand smoke.

4) The company, even with the addition of a second building, doesn’t have enough space to designate a room as the smoking room.

Because of the new policy, you have decided to write a memo announcing the new smoking ban to all employees. You are sympathetic to the smokers and have decided to offer a free smoking-cessation course to any employee who wishes to take it. You also hope that the free course will raise morale since some employees are grumbling because profit-sharing was stopped temporarily to enable the company to buy its second building. When you write the memo, you will have to take into account that rumors are rampant about the smoking policy and that employees’ feelings are running high about the smoking policy. Some rumors say that the smoking policy will not change; other rumors say that smoking will be banned. Some smoking employees have threatened to quit if the policy is changed; some non-smoking employees have threatened to quit if the policy is not changed.

Case: Drug Testing

You work at a company that manufactures specialized medical equipment that keeps people alive during organ transports; in fact, the company is called Life Support, Inc. The company has never had a problem with its employees using illegal drugs, but Maria Tonti, the President, is thinking about implementing drug testing. She has asked you and the other managers to each write her a memo expressing your opinion and giving arguments for it. In class, we will brainstorm a list of pros and cons about drug testing at this company, and then we will practice coming up with ways to rebut the objections on each side. In addition, we will discuss the morality of drug testing.

Planning Guide: Setting Goals Worksheet

Planning Guide: Setting Goals,

Analyzing Audience,

and Thinking Ethically

Overall Purpose: Identify the final result you want your communication to achieve.

What are you writing?

What prompts you to write (other than it is an assignment)?

What outcome (final result) do you desire?

Profile of Readers: Learn your readers’ important characteristics, and learn who all your readers will be.

Who are your primary readers?

What is your readers’ relationship to you?

What are your readers’ job titles and responsibilities?

Who else might read your communication?

How familiar are your readers with your subject?

How familiar are your readers with your specialty — knowledge you learned in your major?

Do your readers have any communication preferences you should take into account?

Should you take into account any other things about your readers when writing?

Readers’ Attitudes: Tell how you want to change your readers’ attitudes.

What is your readers’ attitude toward your subject? Why? What do you want it to be?

What is your readers’ attitude toward you? Why? What do you want it to be?

Situational Analysis: Learn about the context in which your readers will read.

What events and circumstances influence the way you should write? How will your readers use the information you provide?

Readers’ Informational Needs: Learn which information your readers will need.

What are the key questions your readers will ask while reading?






Stakeholders: Identify all the stakeholders.

Who, besides your readers and yourself, are the stakeholders in your communication? (Stakeholders are people who will be affected by your communication even though they may not read it.) In the next section, you will answer this question: How will the stakeholders be affected by your communication?

Ethics: Determine if your communication is ethical.

Is this communication ethical?

• What would happen if everyone were to do what you are thinking of doing?

• Would you want done to you what you are thinking of doing to other people?

• What are the consequences of the action you are thinking about doing? (Be sure to consider the consequences for all the stakeholders.)

Legality: Determine whether your communication is legal.

Is this communication legal? For example, if you are making a recommendation, is the recommended action legal?

Strategies for Achieving Your Goals

What are some strategies you can use to make your communication persuasive? What arguments will you use? What persuasive points will you make? (For example, telling the benefits for the readers is persuasive.)





What are some strategies you can use to make sure your communication gives the readers the information they need? What informative points do you need to make? How can you make it easy for the readers to use the information you provide? (For example, using headings makes it easy to find information.)






If you wish to use or adapt anything you find in this ethics module, feel free to do so. (Give credit to Paul Anderson if you use either of the cases or the worksheet.)

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Ethics Module for Technology Applications in Education

by David Moore
© David Moore 2004
College of Education

Course overview

This course is a prerequisite for the Masters and Ph.D. program in Instructional Technology. The focus is to provide an overview of issues and concerns in the instructional technology field as well as provide basic foundational technology skills that will be leveraged as students progress through their course of study.

Topics include; computer components and functions, NETS standards, communications and networks, application software tools, hardware and systems, multimedia and instructional software, curriculum integration and evaluation, systems dynamics and security and ethics.

Module overview

This module will be implemented as an online replacement for a class that meets face-to-face and focuses on ethics and intellectual property in the classroom.

Learning outcomes

What will students be able to do?

- Students will be able to make legal and ethical decisions related to copyright, intellectual property in instructional environments.

- Students will be able generate, defend, and argue decisions they make concerning intellectual property using rhetorical principles and ethical theory.

- Students will be able to evaluate ethical dilemmas and provide rationales for their decisions.

- Students will be able to identify and evaluate ethical materials.

What will students need to know in able to do it?

- Identify and describe salient copyright laws and fair use provisions

- Identify and describe the indefinite nature of copyright law and fair use

- Students will be familiar with the 10 commandments of computer ethics for educators from the Computer Ethics Institute

The most important single variable in learning is what a student already knows.

Prior Knowledge Probe

This survey is completed online in the Blackboard CMS, individually by students. The results will be used to guide the discussion that follows. It is critical to ascertain what the students already know about this topic.

- List 5 ethical issues that concern educator’s use of computers.

- Explain why information privacy is of greater concern now than in the past.

- Define electronic profiling.

- Define copyright.

- What is fair use?

- What are the benefits and drawbacks of stringently respecting intellectual property from a teacher’s perspective, student’s perspective, institutional perspective, creator’s perspective?

Ethics case studies Commitment exercise

Case studies from will be presented online in the Blackboard CMS. Students will have to will have to answer T/F questions about whether the case represents copyright infringement or not. By committing to a position students are better prepared to participate in the ensuing discussion.

Ethics case studies discussion

Discussion is carried out over the Blackboard CMS system. Students must contribute 5 thoughtful postings.

Class encyclopedia

Students in class will be asked to create a class encyclopedia of copyright issues is education. This will be done using a Wiki system (open online forum where anyone can post and edit) comments).

Topics to be addressed:

Fair-use provisions

Intellectual property rights

Public domain


Cyber ethics

Consequential Ethics – and impact of copyright in the classroom

Deontological Ethics– and impact of copyright in the classroom

Argumentation – defending your intellectual property right decisions


Students will be asked to reflect on their online experience in a non-graded survey.

Follow-up Assessment

The following week students will be asked to review class Wiki page. Quiz items will be taken from the Wiki page?

Final Assessment

Questions based on this activity will be included in the final exam.


Ethical Issues in Engineering Economic Analysis

by David Koonce

David Koonce, IMSE Department

This module will be incorporated into an existing course on economic analysis.  Presently, this course focuses exclusively on the monetary analysis projects and alternatives.  In this module, the non-monetary issues regarding the ethical aspects of projects will be addressed.


1)    Knowledge of ethical aspects of economic decision making – upon completion of this course, students will be able to identify the ethical aspects, if any, of a planned project.

2)    Justify a decisions based on ethical grounds – upon completion of this course, students will be able to develop an ethical justification of an economic decision.


Early in the course, students will be given a case study which introduces an ethical concern.  In small groups, students will develop a response as to how they would act.  Upon completion of this exercise, I will lecture on some of the major ethical philosophies (Kant, Utilitarian).  Students will then be asked to return to their group and apply one of the approaches to justify their actions.  For homework, I will introduce a complexity like a superior who is complicit in some unethical behavior.  Students (individually) will then be required to submit a short written report documenting their decision and the process they used to determine the appropriate action.  (Estimated time: 70 minutes – 1.5 classes)

After the first activity, students will be introduced to NSPE Code of Ethics for Engineers.  A short quiz (available online) will be given.  Students will “self-grade” the exam and will not submit their answers.  (Estimated time: 50 minutes – 1 class)

Following the first two activities, 3-4 additional ethical scenarios will be introduced when the ethical topics coincide with the regular material.  For each instance, students will be given a written case and time to discuss in small groups.  Students will present the results of their deliberations to the class.  (estimated time: 50 minutes/scenario – 3-4 classes)

Ethical Issues Addressed

This list is a super set of the issues.  Due to time constraints, all may not be addressed.

1)    Bidding – Case will introduce a scenario in which the engineer has just won a bid.  As she begins planning for implementation, she determines that an error in design resulted in an under bid.  Correcting the design would introduce costs that push the bid above the next lowest bid.  Implementing the correct design would cause the company lose money on construction.  But, the flawed design would likely result in a new yearly maintenance contract that could be quite profitable.  (source: adapted from

2)    Cost of Life – This case will introduce students to decisions which will result in some loss of life.  For example, designing safety systems for a new automobile.  Tradeoffs:

a.     Driver/passenger safety vs. other vehicle safety (Hummer vs. Yugo)

b.     Safety vs. weight/economy

c.     Safety vs. cost

Students will identify ethical issues in each case.

3)    Business Process Engineering/Downsizing – As part of their job, an engineer may be required to redesign a process which causes other workers to lose their jobs.  What ethical issues are involved.  Case will introduce scenario in which good friend with a sick child will lose their job and potentially their insurance.  Students will determine what their recommendation will be.


Senior Dietics and Nutrition with Science Students

by David Holben, PhD, RD, LD

Background Information (includes major/program information from departmental website)

Dietetics is a career for the Twenty-First Century, as we all become more aware of the impact of nutrition and fitness on feeling and looking good — of living longer and healthier lives. Dietetics applies the sciences of nutrition and food to maintaining or improving human health.

At Ohio University, a student can major in either of two tracks: Dietetics or Nutrition with Science. Students electing Dietetics usually plan to practice their profession as:

  • clinical dietitians who work as part of a medical team in all types of health care facilities;

  • community dietitians who help promote the nutritional health of pregnant women, babies, the elderly and other individuals and groups as part of government-funded programs; they often present nutrition education to interested groups via written, oral and electronic media;

  • dietitians in business who develop, advertise and market food and nutrition products; alternatively they may work in corporate wellness programs or food-related community businesses;

  • management dietitians who plan and provide nutritional, as well as profitable meals for groups of people in health care institutions, schools, corporations, hotels and restaurants; they are responsible for personnel management, budgeting, and equipment purchase, in addition to meal preparation and service;

  • educator and research dietitians who teach nutrition and food science in universities and community colleges as well as investigate new areas of research in foods and nutrition (graduate study required); and/or

  • consultant dietitians who often work in their own private practice, offering advice on diet-related concerns to individuals and groups who seek their help.

Students electing Nutrition with Science, which includes additional and alternative science and mathematics courses, generally plan to pursue graduate study in human nutrition or enter a professional program in medicine.

Both tracks culminate in a bachelor of science degree and both are approved by the American Dietetic Association, the national organization of more than 65,000 dietetic professionals in the United States. To obtain the Registered Dietitian (R.D.) credential, students must obtain supervised practical experience by applying for and completing a dietetic internship following completion of the undergraduate program at Ohio University. Usually undertaken at a large healthcare facility, each internship program must be accredited by The American Dietetic Association and usually requires a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher for acceptance of student applications. Most internships require a year to complete, however part-time programs spread over two years are available at selected facilities. Upon completion of the internship, the student is eligible to take the national Registration Exam for dietitians, which must be completed with a minimum score for each of the five domains.

The Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) is The American Dietetic Association’s accrediting agency for education programs preparing students for careers as registered dietitians. CADE requires that didactic program graduates have knowledge about “ethics of care.” In addition, students are required to have varying degrees of knowledge and skills related to research, nutrition/medical nutrition therapy, food systems (including procurement of food, equipment, and materials), and communication, among others, all which require the future practitioner to uphold ethical professional practice and conduct ( Finally, The American Dietetic Association and its Commission on Dietetic Registration have adopted a voluntary, enforceable code of ethics. “This code, entitled the Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics, challenges all members, registered dietitians, and dietetic technicians, registered, to uphold ethical principles.” (Code of Ethics,

Therefore, this module was designed to introduce aspects of ethics into courses taught by the writer. It is not exhaustive of what the graduate will have learned while at Ohio University or meant to be the sole means of the graduate to acquire the skills outlined by CADE.

Learning Outcomes

Information outlined in this module will be incorporated into two courses taught by the writer: 1) HCFN 400A, Senior Seminar; and 2) HCFN 430, Therapeutic Nutrition. HCFN 400A provides an opportunity for majors in dietetics and nutrition with science to demonstrate personal and professional growth by investigating a topic and presenting it in class. Students lead discussions on topics that affect the profession, including ethics, and share experiences gained during field experience (1 lecture hour). HCFN 430 includes objectives related to use of dietary modification in prevention and treatment of disease, nutritional assessment, and problems in nutritional care (4 lecture hours).

HCFN 400A objectives will be accomplished using resources available from The American Dietetic Association, including The Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics-A Trainer’s Guide (Appendix A).

  • The senior seminar student will be able to access The American Dietetic Association/Commission on Dietetic Registration Code of Ethics using technology (via the internet using a personal computer).

  • The senior seminar student will be able to state the function and purpose of The American Dietetic Association/Commission on Dietetic Registration Code of Ethics.

  • The senior seminar student will learn the principles of The American Dietetic Association/Commission on Dietetic Registration Code of Ethics and participate in a self-evaluation exercise that allows the learner to evaluate eight ethics scenarios and determine what principle(s) applies to the situation. Students will work individually and in groups to discuss the scenarios. Scenarios will include conflict of interest, confidentiality, and use of credentials, among others.

HCFN 430 objectives will be accomplished using the class session developed by the writer of this module, including resources available from the Human Genome Education Module II Project (Appendix B), and via a discussion of a manuscript entitled, Legal and ethical issues in feeding permanently unconscious patients-Position of ADA (Appendix C).

  • The senior therapeutic nutrition student will explore the social, legal, and ethical considerations of genetics in dietetics practice during a class session entitled, Genes: How do they fit? Specifically, the student will examine the Case History of Mrs. F, a woman diagnosed with colon cancer in young adulthood.

  • In groups, students will discuss special issues in genetic testing of children, privacy and confidentiality of genetic information, and communicating genetic information after viewing a video testimony by Mrs. F and review of her dialogue in writing.

  • After learning about use of alternative feeding modalities and completing a tube feeding exercise, the senior therapeutic nutrition student will review the aforementioned position paper and discuss it in groups. During the discussion, groups will be asked to formulate a set of guidelines or principles for feeding permanently unconscious clients.


Privacy Issues in Computer Ethics

by John Dolan

I teach a course in Computer Ethics, CS265. In the past I have always become this course with focus on two areas, the theories of normative ethics and the relationship between people and technology. After attending the Ethics Workshop I have decided that it would be better to begin the class with something more concrete, and the area in which I would like to start the initial focus of the course is privacy.

I believe that privacy is of special interest to the students in this course since many will be soon working in positions where they will have extensive access to personal information in many forms and at many levels. I also think that there are serious questions available such as: What is privacy? Is privacy a right? Does the sense of privacy vary from culture to culture?, etc.

Our class meets for two hours at a time, once a week, and since it is only a single credit hour we have a lot of flexibility to allow time for discussion. On the first day of class I will only be handing out basic materials and describing the course. I have found that my enrollment changes during the first week and I would like all the students to be able to participate in this module, so I am scheduling it for the second class meeting.

The students will be divided into groups and given a series of problems to work on.

I. In the first problem I propose that there has been trouble in offices of a small company with petty theft and also with racial slurs appearing as graffiti. The students are to imagine themselves as head of this company and have to decide about the placing of video cameras that will be used to monitor the employees. They will be asked to answer a series of questions.

  • Is this ethically acceptable?
  • Does it matter where the cameras are placed?
  • For example should the camera be located in such a way as to only watch the employee is working at his desk, or should it be set so that you can also record information about items on his desk?
  • How about items on his computer screen?
  • Does it matter if the employees are aware of the cameras or not, since you think that you might get more valuable information by doing this covertly?
  • Since some of the problems with graffiti are happening in the restroom will it be acceptable to place a cameras in the restrooms?
  • Since you are male would it be okay to place a camera in the men’s room but not the ladies?
  • Is it different if you were to add or substitute audio recordings so that you can hear what your employees are saying to each other as well as their phone conversations?

Now, as an employee:

  • What makes you uncomfortable about all this?
  • Is something being taken from you?
  • Even though your body is not being touched are you being in some sense violated?
  • Does correction of the problems of petty larceny and racism justify this violation?
  • And ultimately, what is privacy?

At the end of group work the various groups will present their “findings”.


Professional Ethics in a Diverse Learning and Working Environment

by Costas Vassiliadis

Fact: The diversity impacts on Engineering and particularly Computer Engineering continue to grow and therefore, increase the strength of our schools and corporations.

The proposed module will be presented to a group of national and international students who take a 3-course sequence on the Enabling Computer Technology of the OnLine World.

There are three major issues to be covered in the module:

  1. Studying in a Diverse Multicultural Environment
    • What may be considering cheating in various cultures and why?
    • Once in a host country, learn, respect and practice the local laws.
  2. Working in a Diverse Multicultural Environment:
    • Comparing cultures, attitudes and codes of conduct.
    • Professional ethics in Asia (China, India, etc.)
    • Professional Ethics in the Hosting Country.
  3. How are Ethics get distorted on the OnLine World.
    • Plagiarism,
    • Piracy,
    • Privacy (cookies, tracking devices, spamming)
    • Web Publishing,
    • Intellectual Property-Copyright.

Learning Outcomes: Students have already been exposed to engineering ethics through earlier undergraduate courses therefore, the primary focus of this module will not be on improving their ability to make moral and better decisions. With this module, students are expected to learn how to deal with co-workers whose ethics code is different than theirs.


Ethics, Chemical Engineering, and Planet Earth

by Ken Sampson

Course Objective: This course is designed to introduce chemical engineering students to the reality that the decisions, actions, and communication they will engage in as practicing engineers are not always based only on quantitative analysis. In contrast many important decisions are strongly affected by the ethics and biases of the decision maker. Along the way you will be introduced to your ethical obligations as a practicing engineer. You will be shown a formal approach for evaluating questions of ethics and given experience making ethical decisions in an organized way. You will also be exposed to your own biases and challenged to examine their effect on your decisions.

Desired Student Learning Outcomes: Students will

  1. recognize that ethics underlie many decisions involving chemical engineers
  2. recognize that their ethical decisions may be influenced by their biases
  3. understand that ethical outcomes include prohibition, permission, and obligation
  4. experience the process of making ethical decisions systematically
  5. explore several ethical issues which relate to chemical engineering
  6. be introduced to their obligations as chemical engineers

Mechanics: The class will meet for one hour per week. Class time will be devoted almost entirely to exercises and discussion. Reading assignments will be distributed by email. Most reading assignments will be magazine articles or monograph excerpts. Reading quizzes will be administered at the beginning of each class. You will be required to write and revise a paper which summarizes your understanding of the subject matter discussed in the readings and in class. The paper should identify ethical issues discussed in class and make supported conclusions as to the proper course of action. The paper should be written using professional standards but should also reflect personal beliefs and experiences which affect the decisions made. Because the course topics are varied, your paper may be a collection of distinct essays. The paper should be double-spaced, be typed and follow technical writing standards number.

Syllabus (Numbers correspond to class meeting weeks)

  1. Ethics whether you want to or not
  2. Choosing recipients for liver transplants
  3. Moral theory and engineering ethics
  4. All the easy choices have been made
  5. Using DDT to control malaria
  6. Nuclear power generation and mitigation of anthropogenic radiation
    You are not your own person
  7. Gender bias
  8. Global warming and the global capitalist economy
  9. It’s your job to save the world
  10. The Coolville medical waste incinerator, NIMBY, and BANANA
  11. The HIV disbeliever

More thoughts on the paper:
After weeks 3 and 4 you should make a personal decision about the best course of action for the topic discussed and justify your decision. After weeks 5 and 6 you should identify and discuss influences in your life which have imbedded biases in your attitudes. After weeks 7 and 8 you should describe how your engineering background helps you understand the particular issue better than the general public.

EC2000 assessments from this course:
f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
g) an ability to communicate effectively
h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context
i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
j) a knowledge of contemporary issues

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