Ethical thinking in a disciplinary context: The ethical development of undergraduates and expectations of tutors in the arts, social and pure sciences
AbstractBarnett (2000: 257) argues that universities need to prepare students for ‘supercomplexity’, where “the very frameworks by which we orientate ourselves to the world are themselves contested”. Learning to think through ethical issues develops critical thinking skills for dealing with supercomplexity, since the frameworks students use to consider ethical issues are contested and likely to change. This research explores disciplinary variations in the development of undergraduates’ ethical thinking during their programmes and compares how this aligns with the expectations of their tutors. Interviews were conducted with tutors teaching on the English, Geography and Animal Behaviour and Welfare programmes at an English University and a questionnaire was completed by 335 students studying on these programmes. It was found that across the disciplines tutors have similar expectations in terms of the nature of ethical thinking desired but that most of the students exhibit lower levels of ethical development than their tutors expected.
DescriptionUnpublished conference presentation given at the Society for Research into Higher Education conference 2013 at Celtic Manor, Newport, 11 December 2013.
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