Ethics background required: None
This lab is designed to help students identify their values and how choices may reflect those values.
Subject matter referred to in this lab: None
Placement in overall ethics curriculum:
Academic year: First semester of first year. Good first semester lab.
Recommended previous labs: Why Ethics?
Recommended follow-up labs:
- *A first Look at Ethics in Computer and Data Science – This lab is written to be homework, or
- Virtue Ethics
- In class: 20 minutes
- Out of class: None (but this could be done out of class as well)
Students identify their own values
Students recognize others may have different values
Students articulate a value and its application to decision making.
Ethical dilemma or issue considered
This is an introductory lab. The lab is designed for students to reflect on their values, articulate what might influence a choice and introduce the awareness that others may hold different values. The discussion centers on how a future workplace is chosen (while not really an ethical dilemma- this gives practice identifying the connection between choice and personal values).
Students read what a value is.
Students select 20-25 values from a list of values.
Students choose values that might influence the choice of a future job.
Students share two of the values that would influence a job choice and why. (This can be done in groups in class or facilitated using an online discussion forum.)
Students reflect on how others' choices differed from their own.
Read the entire lab.
Print out enough copies of student handouts for the entire class.
Adaptations for using outside of class
- Students go through the same assignment on their own.
- Students post their top two values that they have put W’s next to and describe how those values would influence a job choice for them.
- Students need to read each other’s posts and discuss anything that surprised them.
Side note on student interactions
In this lab, students are asked to openly discuss their personal values. To encourage authentic engagement with the material and each other, you may need to state some guidelines on expectations of peer-to-peer interaction. Here are two suggestions from “Guidelines For Classroom Interactions”, the Center for Research on Learning & Teaching, University of Michigan, http://crlt.umich.edu/examples-discussion-guidelines
Understand that your words have effects on others. Speak with care. If you learn that something you have said was experienced as disrespectful or marginalizing, listen carefully and try to understand that perspective. Learn how you can do better in the future.
Understand that others will come to these discussions with different experiences from yours. Be careful about assumptions and generalizations you make based only on your experience. Be open to hearing and learning from other perspectives.
Introduction (to be read or summarized to class)
Your experience in college should help prepare you for your next steps in life. That means that you will increase in knowledge. At this university, we also are concerned that you learn to apply that knowledge in a way that is beneficial to society. Sometimes it is hard to decide what will be beneficial and what will not. To that end you will be presented with opportunities to learn about ways to approach decision making when faced with an ethical dilemma and to practice using those approaches. This short exercise will ask us to think about what we value and apply that knowledge to decision-making. In later labs, we will learn about different frameworks for understanding societal values (aka ethics) and practice using them in making ethical decisions.
Distribute the values handout to students.
Instruct students to read the definition of what a value is. Ask one or more students to define “value” in their own words. (3 minutes)
Instruct students to circle their top 20-25 values from the list of values provided (3 minutes)
When most students are finished (2-3 minutes), instruct students to put a W next to the circled values that might inform where they would choose to work when they graduate.
When most students are finished (1-2 minutes), instruct students to form groups of 3-6. Ask each student to share with their group 1-2 of their values labelled with a W and why that value would influence their work choice. Provide an example. An example might be that flexibility is important so that students might not want to work for a company that requires strict start and finish times.
Reflection (to be completed in class)
Ask each group to report to what degree answers differed within the group. (2-5 minutes)
Ask several students to share with the class an answer provided by a groupmate that surprised them or caused them to reconsider what values might be important in choosing a future workplace. (2-5 minutes)
Ask students if they can think of an example where it would be important to understand the values of others. One example might be if a person on a team valued punctuality and the team meetings always started late. That could cause irritation on the part of the punctual team member. (2-5 minutes)
What is a value?
- Students will probably refer to one of the definitions given on the handout.
Why is it important to understand what we value?
- Understanding what we value can help in deciding between choices.
Why is it important to understand what others value?
- Understanding what others value can help make teams more cohesive, help make products better, demonstrate respect, etc.
Give an example of a choice in your life that reflects one (or more) of your values.
Addendum if using the outside of class
Some additional questions
These questions can be added to the ones on the worksheet. (Question 4 is a replacement for question 4 on the worksheet.) Use of an electonic discussion board can facilitate students seeing and responding to other students' responses.
Post two of the values you placed a W by and write two sentences about how those values would influence a job choice for you.
Read the posts from other students in the class. Find a post that is similar to your values. Find a second post that is different from your values. State how they are different and similar. Does either post surprise you? Why or why not?
Consider the two posts you cited in question 5. If you worked with an individual with a post similar to yours, what might be the benefits of working with this person? What could be the deficits?
If you worked with the individual with the post different to yours, what might be the benefits of working with this person? What could be the deficits?
If your course is a blended format, you could follow up in class with question 6 as a small group discussion.