1 Universidad de los Andes, Facultad de IngenierĂ­a y Ciencias Aplicadas (CHILE)
2 University of Chile, Faculty of Economics and Business, Department of Management Control and Information Systems (CHILE)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 3612-3622
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.0761
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Due to an increasing number of high-profile corruption scandals in both public and private sectors in Chile, teaching of ethics in higher education institutions has been called into question. Despite that teaching of ethics differs across different institutions in the national context, there is agreement among them that implementing active or student-centered teaching and learning methodologies is central to achieving meaningful learning in ethics education.

In this research, a groupware tool called EthicApp was developed and used to facilitate discussion of ethical dilemmas. With EthicApp students can work collaboratively in small groups, and remotely. EthicApp presents students an ethical case in text form. The students read the case and face a four-stage process with individual and anonymous collaborative tasks, including synchronous chat communication. EthicApp allows the teacher to configure whether students keep their identity anonymous in the process, or otherwise. In addition, the teacher has a dashboard in which they can monitor the progress of the activity and observe the responses issued by the students during the first three stages of the process. In the last stage, the teacher moderates a plenary discussion with the students, in which different points of view and edges of the case are analyzed.

In order to explore students' reaction to the ethical case, the effect of EthicApp's the collaborative activity on their ethical judgement, and to verify the effects of academic incentives in participation, a quasi-experiment (N=47) was conducted involving experimental (Ne=20) and control groups (Nc=27), that is, with and without a grade bonus for participation in chat conversations in the third stage of the EthicApp activity. The cohort was composed of students in the seventh semester of the Information and Management Engineering curriculum, at the Faculty of Business and Economics in University of Chile. The case in question was about a student in the brink of falling into unethical academic behavior, by considering asking one of his companions to help him while sitting an exam. The activity was developed with each group in a 90 minute session.

In each semantic differential of the case, and in both conditions of the quasi-experiment, the majority of the students adopted coincident positions, inclined towards one of the poles of each semantic differential scale. In turn, the variations found in students' responses throughout the activity were small, and in most cases, remained unchanged. This indicates that the case had a direct solution for the students, and was not dilemmatic. In spite of this result, significant differences were observed among the groups considering the amount of messages exchanged in chat conversations. The implication is that although extrinsic incentives can motivate students to participate in this type of activity, even if the case does not present great tensions or differences of opinion among students, there is a need to define criteria to formulate cases that can best suit the pedagogical needs of activities of participatory nature such as EthicApp. We perceive, coincidentally with the literature, that the cases should favor the student to feel immersed, assuming one of the roles of the case, or as if they were one more actor. On the other hand, ethical cases and their associated questions must generate genuine differences in perception, both of the ethical dilemma itself, and of its solution by students.
Ethics, Learning and Teaching Methodologies, Collaborative Virtual Environments (CVEs).