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Teaching for Enduring Understandings in Ethics

Haddad, Amy, RN, PhD

Journal of Physical Therapy Education: December 2005 - Volume 19 - Issue 3 - p 73–77

Background and Purpose. Teachers strive for understanding that survives beyond the end of a course, semester, or professional program. The purpose of this paper is to explore teaching for enduring understandings in ethics using the 4 filters proposed by Wiggins and McTighe to determine what is worth understanding, regardless of the discipline or content. Performance or learning by doing is described in the context of a required ethics course. Professionals not only possess knowledge and how to appropriately use it in novel contexts, they also have the ability to reflect on their actions and the relevance of knowledge to practice. Therefore, self-reflection brings together understanding and doing through the personal development of the student.

Position and Rationale. The specific design of learning experiences in a required ethics course to promote critical self-reflection is described. In-depth interviews were conducted with 9 students immediately following the ethics course and with 5 of the original 9 students 1 year later. Evidence of findings of students' reflective discourse regarding enduring understanding is presented.

Discussion and Conclusion. Overall, students' explanations of what they retained from the ethics course and how they have used the skills learned in class changed from the first interview to the second becoming more elaborate, complex, and critical. Personal growth and development as a health professional emerged as a key factor in the second interview.

Amy Haddadis a Carnegie Scholar and professor at the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and Director of the Center for Health Policy and Ethics at Creighton University Medical Center, 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE 68178 (

Copyright2005 (C) Academy of Physical Therapy Education, APTA
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