Group ePortfolio Project: Applying an Ethical Perspective to a Global Issue

Author

Carlos Brocatto

Chair of Philosophy and General Humanities

Middlesex Community College

Citation

Brocatto, C. (2015). Group ePortfolio Project: Applying an Ethical Perspective to a Global Issue. Middlesex Community College.

Description

The “Group ePortfolio Project: Applying an Ethical Perspective to a Global Issue” assesses the quality of student engagement with fundamental issues that concern the global community. It also challenges students to work together to synthesize and present an interpretive analysis of information gathered on global issues. These issues call for students to consider their views regarding the political, environmental, economic, multicultural, and so on, on a global scale. As such the assignment assesses DQP proficiency in Civic and Global Learning and Applied and Collaborative Learning. It encourages students to consider their responsibility to develop approaches to issues that face the global community as a way of expressing the strength of a liberal democracy. Further, this assignment calls for students to apply their understanding of global issues in a way that affects how those issues are to be presented and perceived by a greater community.

Background and Context

The “Group ePortfolio Project: Applying an Ethical Perspective to a Global Issue” assignment was created as a final project for freshmen and sophomore students enrolled in Middlesex Community College’s “Ethics and Society” course. The course meets the college’s general education requirement and the assignment was created with this in mind. As such, it lends itself to a variety of majors offered at the college.

The course materials related to the assignment are meant to introduce students to conflicting approaches in the application of civic power within democratic liberalism. Further, it is intended to assess DQP proficiency in Applied and Collaborative Learning and Civic and Global Learning at any college level. The assignment calls for students to collaborate and gather information on a specific global issue to be analyzed and then synthesized into a case study that cohesively expresses one of the ethical approaches introduced in the course.

By calling on students to use ePortfolios to develop wiki-style media presentations, this assignment emphasizes the point that their ideas and viewpoints extend beyond the classroom. It emphasizes the fact that their academic experiences and aspirations matter and affect the world at large. The reflection portion of the assignment requires students to communicate how they have been personally affected by the assignment and the informed exposure to global issues. They must also formulate what they consider to be their social responsibility as a result of their experience with the assignment. Given that this portion of the assignment requires to students to produce a “Reflection Video,” The assignment can further be used to assess proficiency in Written and Oral Communication.

Alignment and Scaffolding

The first two thirds of the course is aimed at familiarizing students with normative and applied ethical orientations and their possible applications via examples supplied by authors surveyed as well as through the use of thought experiments. This assignment will measure the student’s ability to apply theoretical ethical outlooks to actual global issues. It requires students to familiarize themselves with global issues in order to settle upon one they wish to explore. The exploration is evidenced by way of analytical “Case Study” that summarizes different aspects of the issue in order to highlight its complexities and stakeholders. Students are then required to engage their collective analysis in order to apply a specific ethical perspective developed through the course.

The collaborative process should reveal degrees of viability regarding claims to conflict resolution explored throughout the semester. Additionally, this process offers insight regarding conflict resolution to students as they experience the collaborative process while working on the global issue of their choice. Students are given the assignment five weeks in advance of its due date and are given ample class time to dedicate to their group work two weeks prior to the projects due date. The course’s final week is dedicated to in- class presentations of each group’s project.

Reflection

The assignment has definitely produced positive results. Students are initially intimidated by the difficult reading material and degrees of unfamiliarity with global issues. This subsides, however, once they acquire confidence in discussing global issues due to the attempt to utilize the material as a viable perspective on the data they’ve collected. I am especially pleased with the reflection aspect of the assignment. The reflection videos, in addition to other things, called on students to assess the assignment itself. This has resulted in the present time-frame allotted for the assignment’s completion in the course.

The assignment has also been revised by way of peer review. That is to say it has been reviewed by instructors teaching in the philosophy department at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. This was a wonderful opportunity granted, in great part, through the efforts of Elise Martin, Middlesex Community College’s Dean of Assessment. The review sessions resulted in validation that the project was in keeping with objectives shared, as far as an ethics course is concerned, at the university level. It further allowed for feedback that resulted in minor adjustments to the assignment. Participation in NILOA’s DQP assignment-design charrette produced the impetus required for the final result—a result I am pleased with and attribute to the review process and contributions made available at the charrette.


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