Successes and Failures Teaching Visual Ethics: A Class Study
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This article discusses and evaluates the inclusion of ethics learning modules in a graduate- level visual design theory course. Modules were designed as a part of an NEH grant. Students grappled with case studies that probed the ethics of visuals at the crux of the BP oil refinery accident, NASA space shuttle disasters, the Enron collapse, and biomedical research in the Texas Medical Center. The article assesses evidences of learning and ethical absorption, including student surveys, self-reflections and final project rationales. Ultimately, in terms of Rest's Four-Component Model of ethical behavior, integrating the readings and activities helped heighten moral sensitivity and judgment, but failed to yield measurable evidence of moral motivation or character and behavior. The article describes course adjustments to help facilitate student development in the latter two aspects.