Constructing Case Studies for Ethics Teaching

by Tom Tomlinson

In constructing case studies to use in your classes, consider the following:

1. What is the ethical problem to be embodied in the case study?

a. A problem of deciding upon a general policy or principle?

b. A problem of interpreting or applying a general policy or principle?

c. A problem of conflict or conscience for an individual?

2. What are the teaching objectives for the case study?

a. Practice in evaluating competing ethical positions?

b. Practice in applying accepted ethical principles to particular circumstances?

c. Practice in articulating alternative courses of action?

d. Practice in developing acceptable compromises?

3. What are the salient facts or features that create the problem?

4. Which features should be included to serve the teaching purpose? Which features should be omitted to serve the teaching purpose?

5. How should the features be organized in a narrative?

a. Participant's or observer's point of view?

b. Chronological/historical or atemporal?

c.Plot-driven, including actors' motivations and perceptions?

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Last Update 06/06/03