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Ethics: Research and Resources

Ethics: Research and Resources

Reasoning based upon the fulfillment of one’s moral duties.


Ethical Dilemmas - Institute for Global Ethics

A non-profit organization with a ready-made case bank of ethical dilemma cases in many domains: business, education, medical, military, personal, and more.

Teaching Ethics - Center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University

Provides many resources from teaching ethics, ethics across disciplines, ethical cases to use, ethics articles, and podcasts.

Outcomes-Centered Ethics Teaching - Center for Ethics, Loyola University Chicago

Provides resources for teaching ethics and provides a special section on learning outcomes for ethics across the curriculum.


Paul, R.W. (1995). Ethics without indoctrination. In Critical thinking: How to prepare students for a rapidly changing world (pp. 239-268). Santa Rosa, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.

An illuminating chapter on the relationship between morality and thought, with an insightful "intellectual virtues" framework.

Perry, W. G. (1998). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A scheme. Jossey-Bass.

This seminal work explores college students’ developmental trajectory through a 9-stage model. Focusing on both intellectual and ethical growth, this model provides a thorough framework for understanding college students' attitudes and worldview.

Strike, K.A., Moss, P.A., Moss, P.J., & Bitkker, J. (2007). Ethics and college student life: A case study approach. Pearson.

Explores ethical dilemmas faced by today's college students--from cheating to substance abuse--offering five ethical principles students can use to resolve ethical dilemmas.

McKeachie, W.J. & Svinicki, M. (2006). McKeachie's teaching tips: Strategies, research and theory for college and university teachers . Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

Has a concise chapter on "The Ethics of Teaching and the Teaching of Ethics" that combines many pieces of previous research.


Astin, A. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40(5), 518-529.

A theoretical piece positing student "involvement" as crucial to the development of college students along any of several continua, including Perry's theory of ethical and intellectual development. While not explicitly about ethical development, Astin's involvement theory uses language and concepts central to motivational and ethical constructs (e.g., how they "commit," "attach," or "engage" themselves in something.)

Etter, S., Cramer, J.J., & Finn, S. (2006). Origins of academic dishonesty: Ethical orientations and personality factors associated with attitudes about cheating with information technology. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 39(2), 133-155.

This study investigated student factors that are associated with academic dishonesty. Students at both a church-affiliated college and public university were administered multiple surveys to assess their attitudes toward using technology (plagiarizing information obtained through the internet) to cheat on class assignments. Results of the survey indicated:

  • Students at a church-affiliated school had a higher disapproval rating for cheating behaviors when compared to a public university
  • Students who rated cheating behaviors as more serious tended to have higher ratings in the ethical construct of idealism and a higher disapproval rating for engaging in alcohol consumption, drug use, and sex.
  • Higher scores on the disinhibition personality scale were associated with higher acceptance of cheating with information technology

Knotts, T.L., Lopez, T.B., & Mesa, H.I. (2000). Ethical judgments of college students: An empirical analysis. Journal of Education for Business, 75(3), 158-163.

This article investigated whether age, gender, academic major, and religiosity affected the ethical judgments of college students. To measure ethical decision making, a questionnaire with nine scenarios of "somewhat questionable" business actions was given to the students to rate. Results indicated:

  • Females tended to rate the scenarios as more unethical, when compared to males
  • Business majors rated the scenarios as more unethical than nonbusiness majors, which contradicts previous studies
  • Students who rated high on being religiously committed rated the scenarios as more unethical

Kuther, T.L. (2005). A profile of the ethical professor: Student views. College Teaching, 51(4), 153-160.

This article explored students' perceptions of what defines ethical behavior for professors.

  • Study 1 revealed several behaviors that were perceived as highly unethical (defined by 75% of students rating these behaviors as never or rarely ethical): substance use while teaching, lack of respect for students (e.g., insulting students, revealing confidential conversations with students) dishonest grading (e.g., ignoring evidence of cheating, allowing the teacher's liking of a student to influence grades, ignoring plagiarism), and nonobjective teaching
  • Study 2 investigated behaviors that could be perceived as more ambiguous. Results indicated: 62% of students felt it was never or rarely ethical to accept an expensive gift from a student, 69% of students felt it was never or rarely ethical for a professor to date a student, 42% of students indicated that it was usually or always ethical for a professor and student to become sexually involved after the course had ended, 63% of student rated it as rarely or never ethical for a professor to teach material they have not mastered

Oldenburg, C.M. (2005). Students' perceptions of ethical dilemmas involving professors: Examining the impact of professors' gender. College Student Journal, 39(1), 129-140.

This article investigated students' perceptions of 10 fictional scenarios of interactions between a professor and students in regards to the degree of the ethical behavior of the professor. Special attention was given to determining whether gender effects existed in the students' perception of the degree of ethical behavior. Results indicated:

  • In some scenarios the students’ perceptions of ethical behavior varied by the professors gender. Females perceived these behaviors as more unethical than their male counterparts: 1) professor comments on students attractiveness and places a hand on the student’s shoulder, 2) professor comments that a female student’s attire is distracting other students, 3) professor hugging a female student (but not a male student), 4) professor self-disclosing marital problems, 4) professor frequenting a traditionally student populated bar
  • In some scenarios the gender of the rater interacted with how they perceived the degree of ethical behavior of the professor: 1) female participants rated female professors frequenting a college bar as more unethical than a male professor engaging in the same behavior whereas male participants rated male professors frequenting a college bar as more unethical than a female professor engaging in the same behavior, 2) female students rated male professors commenting on a female students attire as more unethical than a female professor engaging in the same behavior whereas male students had the opposite ratings
  • The authors suggest that overall, female students tended to rate professors behavior as more unethical, when compared to male students, no matter what the gender of the professor was

Sankaran, S., & Bui, T. (2003). Relationship between student characteristics and ethics: Implications for educators. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 30(3), 240-253.

This article investigates whether the student characteristics of age, competitiveness, personality type, gender, and academic major produce differential effects on level of ethics. Results indicate:

  • Students with higher levels of competitiveness tended to have lower levels of ethics
  • Students labeled with a Type B personality type had significantly higher levels of ethics, when compared to students labeled as Type A personality types
  • As students age increase, level of ethics increased
  • No gender effects were found for gender of student
  • Differences existed between academic majors, but the method of data analysis makes it difficult to discern whether these differences were more attributable to the other factors (age, competitiveness, and personality type) that seemed to cluster according to major

Schulte, L.E., Thompson, F., Hayes, K., Noble, J., & Jacobs, E. (2001). Undergraduate faculty and student perceptions of the ethical climate and its importance in retention. College Student Journal, 35(4), 565-576.

The purpose of this article was to explore the extent to which the ethical climate within a university impacts undergraduate student retention. A measure of ethical climate was administered to both faculty and students with the college of education in a public university. Results indicated:

  • Faculty rated student to professor relationships significantly higher than did students
  • Faculty and students rated ethical climate as a very important factor in retention