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Contemporary Ethical Issues Focus

Please also visit Manoa's Assessment Office website for student learning outcomes (SLOs), rurbics, and assessment project results.

Program Assessment: A Brief History

Click on the semester to view the full report.

  • Fall 2007: Faculty groups drafted a rubric to evaluate how well student work achieves the Contemporary Ethical Issues (E) outcomes.
  • Spring 2008: Faculty who had taught E Focus courses were surveyed regarding the rubric: survey results indicated that most faculty respondents believed the rubric was applicable to student work and would be useful.
  • Spring 2009: Faculty groups tested the E rubric by applying it to student coursework collected in Fall 2008. The rubric was deemed useful (see Spring 2009 report) and the E Focus Board agreed to conduct a full-scale assessment in 2010.
  • 2010-2011: Faculty groups investigated the extent to which a random sample of students had achieved the outcomes as measured by the E rubric.

Student Questionnaires

The Contemporary Ethical Issues (E) Board devised a student questionnaire to solicit responses from those taking E-designated courses. This questionnaire is sent to all faculty teaching E courses (started in Fall 2003). The responses to Likert-scale questions are compiled and reviewed; the open-ended question responses are read and discussed.

Highlights from Fall 2003 (click here for results from other semesters)

Of the 46 courses offered in Fall 2003, 25 (54%) administered the survey, with a total of 469 student questionnaires returned (38% return rate). Highlights:

  • Students felt that the ethical issues covered in the class related to the course content (63% strongly agreed and 27% agreed with this statement).

  • Asked about feeling comfortable expressing their opinions, most of the students were in agreement (40% strongly agreed, 29% agreed).

  • As far as how the instructor fared in introducing techniques for deliberating on ethical issues, 40% strongly agreed and 37% agreed with this statement.

  •  Students generally felt more competent in evaluating ethical issues in their major (37% strongly agreed, 31% agreed).

Students were also asked an open-ended question soliciting their comments about taking the E-designated course. Generally those who commented were positive in their appraisal. For example, one student stated

I feel that this course has driven me to analyze societal issues with more depth. I like this E-focus course because I have never taken a course like it before. My ability to analyze is stronger, and I look at issues and events at other perspectives.

To improve teaching and learning, students made suggestions:

  • have content be made more meaningful and relevant to daily life

  • more open discussions with time for deliberation and dialogue

  • assign formal debates or role-play to address the issues or dilemmas

  • more hands-on ethics projects

Based on the student responses, the Board recommends that teachers of contemporary ethical issues courses consider increasing the number of contemporary examples, specific cases, and everyday "real life" examples. They should also consider asking students to do more reflection or written commentaries so that students can practice applying what they learned to their own lives.

Additional information

last updated September 6, 2013

General Education Office 2545 McCarthy Mall, Bilger Hall 104 Honolulu, HI 96822 (808) 956-6660 gened@hawaii.edu 

2006-2008 University of Hawai`i at Mānoa