Developing an ethical professional through work-integrated learning

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Campbell, Matthew
Zegwaard, Karsten
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Matthew Campbell
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Geelong, Australia

Background Students emerging into professional fields need to understand and navigate the increasingly important ethical aspects of being a professional, transforming the workplace and themselves (Campbell & Zegwaard, 2011a). A primary goal of a work-integrated learning program, and likewise professional ethics education, is the evolution within the student of a sense of self and the development of an identity within their chosen profession and/or workplace. Students need to develop as critical moral agents (actively making choices whilst critically evaluating their moral implications) whilst developing their understandings of professionalism and professional obligations. Ethical practice emerges through a negotiated position between the individual and collective. The ideal professional has, therefore, an obligation to affect positive change and actively respond to ethical ideals and misconduct; that is, the professional, at any stage of their career, must be actively engaged in the construction and negotiation of acceptable ethical practice. An argument is made in this paper for approaches to work-integrated learning to provide support for the development of critical mind and moral courage of the emerging professional and engaged student. Aims This paper aims to provide a justification for a research study, which will closely examine the transformation in student perceptions and responses to ethical issues before, during, and after work-integrated learning placements. Approach The paper presents a proposed methodology of the research study evolving from a consideration of the current literature. The paper employs a literature analysis as a tool for framing an argument for the development of critical moral agency within students with a suggested pedagogical and research approach to better understanding this development. Discussion Emerging from the literature are is the argument for the centrality of concepts such as practical wisdom within an applied professional ethics education for students as part of a comprehensive understanding of work-integrated learning. The paper suggests that pedagogical approaches that are grounded in notions of 'situationalism' provide the most useful educative tools for the mature development of a critical moral agent. Implications It is intended that this research will provide a foundation for professional ethics education which moves beyond the traditional approaches, to an authentic and engaged curriculum which equips students with the capacities for critical decision making required to navigate the world of work. Keywords: Professional ethics, agency, values education

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Proceedings of the 2012 Australian Collaborative Education Network (ACEN) National Conference
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© 2012 ACEN. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.
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Technical, Further and Workplace Education
Professional Ethics (incl. police and research ethics)
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