The assessment of ethics

Clair Hughes


That Australian universities value the development of qualities broadly related to ethics is evidenced through their inclusion in institutional statements of graduate attributes (GA). Early GA implementation strategies largely emphasised the mapping of specific attributes against existing programmes or courses. There is now a growing acknowledgement that authentic implementation does not occur unless GAs are embedded in assessment. The assessment of GAs is a problematic and challenging task, a situation attributed partly to difficulties in conceptualising GAs in ways that facilitate their operationalisation in teaching and assessment and partly to inadequacies in the development of assessment strategies and instruments. For many academics, the moral dimension of ethics so intensifies the assessment challenge that they are often not assessed at all. While these difficulties are acknowledged, this paper argues the case for the explicit inclusion of ethics in course
teaching and assessment plans and illustrates some of the contexts, including the student university learning experience, in which the development and assessment of ethics can be undertaken.

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