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Workplace Ethics


Workplace Ethics

Logo for Workplace Ethics
Five short situational cases are provided here. Each involves an ethical decision in the workplace. Steps for making ethical decisions are included as well as instructions for group activities.
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Material Type: Drill and Practice
Date Added to MERLOT: May 04, 2001
Date Modified in MERLOT: December 13, 2016
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Submitter: Cathy Swift


  • Reviewed by members of Editorial board for inclusion in MERLOT.
    Editor Review
    Very good quality; in queue to be peer reviewed
    avg: 5 rating
  • User review 4.33 average rating
  • User Rating: 4.33 user rating
  • Discussion (20 Comments)
  • Learning Exercises (1)
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Primary Audience: College General Ed
Mobile Compatibility: Not specified at this time
Language: English
Cost Involved: no
Source Code Available: no
Accessibility Information Available: no
Creative Commons: unsure
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Discussion for Workplace Ethics

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Avatar for Karen Parkerson-Foster
2 years ago

Karen Parkerson-Foster (Student)

I disagree with my peers that the Drill and Practice material is geared toward face to face rather than an online course. For use in an online course one can simply assign groups; give each group their own sub-forum with one of the scenarios to discuss. Each individual in the group would read the scenario and answer the prompt questions in a discussion thread. The group can continue to discuss their cohorts’ answers and come to a consensus. The group then selects one of their members to post the consensus to the main class discussion forum to include their group number and member names. Once all groups have posted their consensus and defense, all members of class may leave feedback. The scenarios are sound and typical situations employees face on a day to day basis. For younger students in the class, it will give some insight into what ethical challenges they may face later in life. More experienced returning students have the opportunity to draw from personal experiences and relate wisdom to younger students

Avatar for Diane Coffman
3 years ago

Diane Coffman (Content Developer/Author)

Interesting scenarios and practical student set-up that would provide stimulus for discussions. Requires multiple students participation, so probably not feasible for self-paced study.  The material could be used for both onground classes or during online courses, via wiki pages or synchronous group meetings.  Follow up assignments could be given after the discussions, based on the group's decisions.

It was listed as a Drill/Practice material, but it should instead be relabelled as a Case Study material.

Technical Remarks:

Basic activity page was very easy to use.  Very little computer training is needed to access the material. 

The source link at the bottom of the page was broken.  There were extra letters and @ signs scattered throughout the scenario screen.

Time spent reviewing site: 20 minutes

Avatar for Nancy Tierney
2 years ago

Nancy Tierney (Student)

The scenarios are very realistic and could spark some debate among students.  I think anyone using this lesson needs to first establish a safe environment for the students to express their opinion.  I would make sure the student can debate topics appropriately before I would purpose these scenarios.

Time spent reviewing site: 20 min

Avatar for Shona McKinney
2 years ago

Shona McKinney (Teacher (K-12))

The situations in this activity could be utilized in a live classroom or an online setting. They are descriptive of situations that many employees face on a daily or weekly basis. Students or adults could use any of the scenarios to stimulate discussions over workplace ethics. The effects that daily decisions can have on the individuals involved in the scenarios could be considered from each person's point of view. This activity reminded me of one that I used in a career preparation class that I taught. Activities like this are useful because they get people talking. They require individuals to defend a viewpoint and then consider the merits of ALL the arguments made for each viewpoint.
Time spent reviewing site: 20 minutes

Avatar for Rachelle Anderson
2 years ago

Rachelle Anderson (Student)

I believe this material could be used in either a face to face learning environment or online. In a face-to-face learning environment, the teacher instructions would be followed exactly and could be used in a introduction to business type course. This could be used at the high school or beginning college level. One might even utilize it in a debate class. If you were to use the material in an online learning environment, students would still be divided into groups, however, each group would present the discussion in a digital format and submit it for review and/or grading. Students could follow the Steps for Making Ethical Decisions and assign each member within their group to a step to prepare for the discussion. This could also be adapted for a business environment that wants to "train" staff; possibly new; in workplace ethics. One way to adapt for the online scenario in this use is to use the material when creating a Voki.

Avatar for Slim Chtourou
17 weeks ago

Slim Chtourou (Faculty)

the mentioned scenarios are real, and some students may even side with them (e.g case of mother who needs to abuse her role for her son'sake) the debate can overheat and even turn to punch debates for some cases. I think students need first to learn the basics of debating and how to behave well before trying these scenarios this remarks may be good for special countries (where student have a different mentality), but for other ones, this prerequisite is not necessary

Avatar for Amy Brown
48 weeks ago

Amy Brown (Student)

This is an effective tool to help groups work together as a team using the topic of ethics. The examples are good and the steps to make decisions are very clear. 

Avatar for Carol Beckley
1 year ago

Carol Beckley (Faculty)

I think it would be beneficial to see an example of at least one of the scenarios applied to each of the 6 steps with examples of excellent analysis, ok analysis and faulty analysis. It could help students fully understand what kind of logic, analysis, debate is expected.

Avatar for Dorina Tila
1 year ago

Dorina Tila (Faculty)

These five scenarios are short, concise, clear, and most importantly very realistic. I think they would play a good role in teaching a business ethics course that would allow a group discussion for each case. In an online course, this would still be a good exercise and the debate would occur asynchronously in a discussion forum. I think that also the six questions are very important because they aim at guiding the student to focus on the important items of this discussion.

Avatar for Matthea Marquart
1 year ago

Matthea Marquart (Staff)

5 short cases on workplace ethics that can be used with many levels of students.  The cases are realistic and have the potential to spark lively discussions on ethics.

Time spent reviewing site: 60 minutes
Used in course

Avatar for Mary Johansson-Evans
1 year ago

Mary Johansson-Evans (Student)

We have an Ethics refresher course every year. The course is online and asks questions after each case is presented. Although each of us takes the course as an individual employee, discussion groups could be assigned by one's immediate manager and held either in weekly meetings or in Google Groups. In our company, course completion is mandated.

Avatar for Nicole Doran
2 years ago

Nicole Doran (Student)

The information provided in Workplace Ethics is best for a class of adults, specifically those who are experienced office workers. The scenarios are realistic, and can generate discussion on ethics in a face-to-face class or online discussion. On a technical note, the pop up window titled "lesson plan" that opened once I was sent to the site has a "404" error and was unable to load. I'm unsure of what material I am missing by being unable to view this pop-up, but even without it the website conveys information clearly.

Avatar for Patricia Plasse
2 years ago

Patricia Plasse (Student)

The cases can be presented to students who can form teams to determine the ethical decision that should be made, or they can discuss other ways to resolve the issue. This material can be used online or face to face. It can be used in a classroom of high school students preparing to enter college or the workplace, for college and university students as well as for new hires in the corporate world. I myself work in the corporate world and these scenarios are those we come across often.
Time spent reviewing site: 35

Avatar for Karen Parkerson-Foster
2 years ago

Karen Parkerson-Foster (Student)

I plan to use this material with my 8th grade business students. The real life scenarios will give them pause and stimulate analyses and synthesis. 

Time spent reviewing site: 30 +
Used in course

Avatar for Paul Burwick
2 years ago

Paul Burwick (Student)

These are very real scenarios that people in a office settings may have to face frequently. Weighing getting caught to what seems to be a victim-less outcome. The potential loss of integrity or one's position - is it justified? This was simplistic yet made a good point. These are cases that any employee may face on a day-to-day basis so they are easy enough to relate to. Yet, it gives the learner t he opportunity to challenge one's own integrity and use critical thinking to reach an outcome
Time spent reviewing site: 30 mins

Avatar for Dawn Kerr
2 years ago

Dawn Kerr (Student)

Based on these types of scenarios I can concur with others in our discussion group that each segment is welled played out in a face to face group and not individualized manner. As Brenda explain, we can use these types of approaches in group form but not as a single course.

Avatar for Dawn Burks
3 years ago

Dawn Burks (Health Care Professional)

These scenarios would work well played out by each group for the other groups in a face-to-face class. Discussions could consist of the reasons students chose to approach their part and feedback from the audience as to what might have been done different or improvements to consider.

Avatar for Brenda Perea
3 years ago

Brenda Perea (Content Developer/Author)

Scenario based activity useful in context of a course, but the material cannot be used as a self-paced, individual student course

Avatar for Dorothy Kropf
3 years ago

Dorothy Kropf (Content Developer/Author)

This is a suggested class activity or group collaboration activity using a set of scenarios to teach students about the steps to take in making an ethical decision.  

Technical Remarks:

For a small group activity to teach ethics, this is a good material to use.  It's simple and yet the case scenarios are practical.  The material could use some colors or illustrations as most undergraduate students do not necessarily see "ethics" as an exciting and eye opening class.

Time spent reviewing site: 15 minutes
Used in course

Avatar for Beatriz Flores-Martinez
3 years ago

Beatriz Flores-Martinez (Student)

The tutorial is very informative and well organized.  The concept presented was thoroughly and elaborately explained.

Time spent reviewing site: about 11 minutes