ethical dilemmas, practice education, speech and language therapists, health and social care
Ethical dilemmas continue to be an extremely complex area of health and social care practice and concerns have been expressed that ethics teaching is often not sufficiently adequate in preparing students. A particular criticism has been that didactic teaching methods privilege the assessment of knowledge over assessment of the ability to apply that knowledge. In response, a range of approaches to teaching ethics have been proposed. This study investigated the use of an innovative online platform – the Values-Exchange™(VX™) – to explore the manner in which speech and language therapy students approached cases focused on an ethical dilemma, which they are likely to encounter in practice.
Participants (n=37) were Year Two and Year Four students enrolled on a four-year BSc Speech and Language Therapy programme, who completed two case studies through the VX™.
The results indicate that Year Two students tended toward an absolutist approach, while Year Four students appreciated the nuances of the ethical considerations that practitioners must grapple with.
The encouraging of peer-learning across programme years and the incorporating of opportunities for help-seeking may contribute to reducing absolutist approaches, and online platforms such as the VX™ may prove useful for collaboration and structured reflection.