Pin the Tail on the Ethics Donkey

It has been 4 weeks since the beginning of my ethics class.  Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to play “Pin the Tail” on the ethics donkey – that is to solicit feedback from the students about the course.  Rather than go blindfolded through the remainder of the 12 weeks, I asked the students to respond to three open ended questions:  1. Continue doing; 2. Consider adding; and 3. Consider changing and modifying.  Having collated their responses, I responded to them (my responses in bold print); and we will review their data and my responses as the first activity of the next class.


Here are their responses and my responses bolded–

Continuing doing: all of these comments are affirming and confirming

  1. Continuing how you are teaching – 8 responses
  2. Like the time in class to begin/complete assignments, helps lighten the overall load – 2 responses
  3. Summarizing what was discussed/completed in class via BB – 4 responses
  4. I just really enjoy your class – thanks for sharing your knowledge
  5. The same format; like 20 minute segments, and showing insightful videos that connect with the course
  6. Homework is not overwhelming, really enjoy the class, having the opportunity to learn from others via assignments, discussions, and presentations
  7. Class organized and good use of examples
  8. Keep doing all the varied activities we are doing
  9. In class discussions and ethical dilemmas
  10. Ethical dilemmas – enjoy the opinions and perspectives
  11. Appreciate the announcements after each class and the summation of the class and what is due and when
  12. Doing what you are doing, course layout is ideal
  13. Various videos that have ethical meaning
  14. Class discussion with ethical dilemmas; in class assignments
  15. Discussions; add a grading scale on a separate tab – thus discontinue the grading scale for each comment you give
  16. To complete in class assignments
  17. Discussions and in class assignments
  18. Love the class; am learning to be more open and understanding
  19. More time to interact with more of the class not just those around us—can certainly mix up the groups
  20. Class is great and so is the instructor


Consider adding:

  1. More time to clarify verbally our homework and due dates – I usually begin and end the class doing this – explain further for me
  2. A mini break midway through class – agree – 8:45 to 8:50
  3. Start class with an ethical dilemma – primes the mind – can do more of, but still need to vary how class begins maybe with quotations or a thought-provoking video
  4. A calendar of due dates in the syllabus; present layout confusing – at the end of the syllabus are a listing of the 15 classes and due dates? Although, I would pay more attention to the weekly announcements and class summaries which are more up-to-date
  5. Adding due dates attached to assignments – explain?
  6. More time to discuss topics in small groups before discussing in the larger group or class per se – 3 responses – ideally, but we have to use our time alotted within 90 minutes – not always easy to facilitate
  7. More quotations for reflection – can certainly add – knowing how much I like quotations – alternating with dilemmas to begin class, could use quotations for a class starter, or a thought-provoking video
  8. Adjusting the discussion board as part of the class discussion – explain further?
  9. More time to complete the assignment in class – ideally, again everyone works at a different pace – it appears the majority are able to complete the assignment within 20, if not, at least you have completed the majority of the assignment, and you can then submit it the next class
  10. Discussion boards – difficult to reply to two other people, especially if they wait until the last minute or have us respond to ethical dilemmas in the discussion board – this is an on-going issue with on-line classes as well as for other teachers who face the same issue of last minute submission which are due to multiple  reasons why we  humans procrastinate, do not time manage, or simply run out of time even when we do not procrastinate or do manage our time well.  I may consider interacting with one other person, however, then your submission needs to be at least 50 words or more so it is substantive and thought-provoking.


Consider changing/modifying:

  1. No presentations in class – 2 – anxiety, not a teacher – as a psychotherapist I understand GED = generalized anxiety disorder as an official diagnosis or just the normal anxiousness a person may feel before a presentation – I still have anxiety before I begin every class after 54 years of teaching – I need such energy to propel and motivate me – thus it is more of an asset than a liability; if you feel strongly about it, let us talk– there may be alternatives to presenting to the class, if appropriate; On the other hand, these presentations allow us to hone our skills of talking and presenting to more than one person; and finally, historically, the majority of students appreciate presentations in terms of connecting more personally with the class, and in turn,  the class discovering more about the person presenting – it is a form of bonding. In a sense, we are always teaching by our lives, our example, our words, our thoughts, gestures, and by being models, mentors, and messengers of ethical behavior.
  2. Layout on BB – highlight areas – different colors? I presently highlight with yellow – will vary colors if necessary and if it will help
  3. Discussion post to Wednesday at 8 am – 2 responses – I will seriously consider this – sounds reasonable; I scheduled it for Monday since that is when we have read a new chapter; will this extension feed into the procrastinators who will then wait until Tuesday evening; if so, we are back in the same situation as discussed above.
  4. More clear with instructions-explain— 2 responses – when I write – Due February 26, read chapter 3 and complete the discussion board assignment by 8 AM – how else can I be clearer?  Or, for an assignment that states, Due February 26, to be completed in class – what else might that I mean or how is that vague or unclear – I need help here to understand the phrases, “Be more clear”
  5. Change the Wednesday through Saturday noon deadline to Sunday evening – I think this is a good idea – it does load up my work until Sunday evening at 6 pm – however, if it helps lighten your load given your weekend responsibilities – let us do it. Again, be aware – procrastinators.
  6. Change the feedback we receive when grades are entered – just have feedback on what we did right/wrong – explain more – when I open up your submission in BB, I review your responses against the criteria of the grading scale, which I add each time I review a submission; I then respond and grade according to whether or not you met the grading criteria; in the case of the ethical dilemma you answered in the Inquiry section,  I respond to your response of the ethical dilemma; then I add information that further supplements that chapter since that information is my mini-lecture in a sense, and it is not generally included in the class itself due to time constraints.
  7. Change the questions for the discussion form so there are different questions for each chapter – I prefer to keep the questions more generic and open-ended which allows for more creative and varied responses as opposed to more specific questions where students may be looking just for that one answer to the question while overlooking other insights that might or could be shared.
  8. Like the dilemmas – but change some of them – they are confusing—every week I change the dilemmas and yes, some may be more confusing, challenging, or difficult.
  9. Less information on BB and add it to the actual assignment – explain – do you mean less information when I summarize that which we discussed and/or completed in class, or should I not include what is due for the forthcoming class the following week by listing the Learning Plan and what is due? or should I send two separate emails?– the announcements only and then what learning plan is due in another email or not even do that, but just state – see Learning Plan 4 – February 26 and 28.


Maybe I am over communicating and should communicate less, leaving the responsibility more in your hands, for I think the Learning Plans are all organized from Learning Plan 0 to Learning Plan 14 – with the due dates stated for when the assignments are due, what we will be doing in class, and all the necessary instructions and links that are needed to complete the assignments.


 Maybe I am enabling you and you should take more responsibility to complete the work that is, I think, clearly stated in the Learning Plans.  Now, you have to keep in mind that I do and will make minor changes from time to time given that the chemistry of in-person classes are different from on-line classes.  The chemistry of each in class sometimes necessitates that changes be made in the assignments.


 I appreciated your individual input at week 4, and some minor, but hopefully significant changes will be made so as to facilitate a more positive and effective learning atmosphere.  And, realistically, not everyone will be happy with the changes that are made.


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