Ethics and values: The need for student awareness of workplace value systems

Discussion paper

ABSTRACT Increasingly the literature highlights the importance of having ethics and values taught at all levels of the education system. Governments, such as those of New Zealand and Australia, are increasingly focused on introducing curricular requirements for values education and ethics, and some universities in Australia have already introduced ‘core generic papers’ across all degree programmes, including ethics. Co-operative education provides a unique learning environment which leans towards exploring the practice of professional values and ethics. In the workplace, decisions are often made through consideration of adherence to a particular value system or ethical code. A co-operative education student, situated in a workplace environment, observes, explores, and practices the workplace value systems and codes. Such a conclusion presents several challenging issues for co-operative education practitioners. Firstly, there presents a need to investigate what core values are held as important within the workplaces that students will be placed within and, secondly, students need to be provided with learning opportunities to practice their ethical decision making before being exposed to the workplace. Co-operative education programmes need to scaffold opportunities to allow students to advance their understanding of ethical behaviour and identify skills required to engage with ethical issues. In addition, we need to consider that

graduates should not just be prepared to become acquirers of existing practice, but also become critical agents in the development and advancement of ethical workplace practice. Thus the aim of this presentation will be to explore considerations around workplace value systems, development towards a generic framework, and the opportunities work placements presents towards developing students to be critical moral agents.


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