VISTAS Counselor Professional and Career Development

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Developing Ethical Reasoning Ability using an Applied Ethics Course

Darlene Daneker


Several studies have examined teaching methods designed to increase moral reasoning, including a meta analysis of 55 intervention programs, concluding that the best way to teach ethics is to use the dilemma discussion method combined with a deliberate psychological education approach which emphasizes experiential activity and sself reflection(Brendel, Kolbert, & Foster, 2002; Cole, 1993; Pelsma & Borgers, 1986, Rest, 1986). Using this method of instruction, an applied ethics course was developed which included active student participation in open discussion of ethical dilemmas. The course met weekly for 16 weeks for 1 ½ hour each week. Each week had a specific focus designed to encourage moral development in the students by using a developmental approach to lead students to consider ever increasingly difficult areas of ethical discussion. Kienzlers’ (2001) four aspects of critical thinking were utilized in developing weekly class plans. These four aspects; identify and question assumptions, seek multiple perspectives, make connections, and fostering active involvement created opportunities for the instructor to shake the student’s frame of reference and create dissonance between what is and what should be in the ethical cases examined. Feedback was gathered from the students at the end of each class in an activity called “valuation” to provide the students an opportunity to inform the instructors of their thoughts, feelings, and progress. These feedback sheets were examined weekly by the instructors to determine if the class needed to be modified to meet student needs and development.

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