SPECIFIC TECHNIQUES FOR ENHANCING INFORMATION PROCESSING, VALUES
PROCESSING, AND DECISION-MAKING IN ETHICS ISSUES
Toni L. Miller
1992 Woodrow Wilson Biology Institute
INFORMATION PROCESSING SKILLS
Intended Audience: All grades, esp. HS Science
Rationale: Methods to use with case studies and current events in
A. Background Information:
Bloom's Taxonomy is a sequential hierarchy of Information Processing:
- Knowledge � acquiring factual knowledge
evaluation: objective test, repeat facts
- Comprehension � being able to understand an idea or concept
evaluation: put it in one's own words
- Application � ability to apply knowledge to other circumstances
evaluation: write about same information in a different context
- Synthesis � putting together in a new form.
evaluation: put ideas together in a novel way
- Evaluation � ability to see good and bad in a situation.
evaluation: tell what is good and bad about each part and why
- Cubing (Ilayna Pickett) reinforces Bloom's skill levels.
a. Trace a cube pattern 4" x 4" on a side (six sides).
Give to each student.
b. Give a topic to students.
c. Label each face with one of the levels. Write an appropriate
statement or statements for that level.
d. Assemble cubes and display in room.
- Brainstorming (Ilayna Pickett)
a. "Write down first three appropriate words that come to mind
when I use the term ."
b. "Write down three words that might occur to other people.
c. "Put a star by the one that ."
- Partner Talk/Write (Madeline Hunter1)
a. Exchange papers from brainstorming, and talk about what you wrote.
b. Take one word from partner's paper and write it in a sentence.
c. Take one word and find three synonyms.
d. Who would care about what you are talking about? (Talk, and write)
- Finish The Sentence/Paragraph
a. Teacher starts a sentence (e.g. "The most important thing
about "X" is "). Students finish the sentence.
b. Exchange papers. Next student adds another sentence that follows
the thoughts of the first statement. Do this three or four more times.
Students must write a follow-up sentence with good structure and idea
consistency even though they may not agree with previous statements or point
- Forced Writing
a. Talk to partner for two minutes about the topic, "X".
b. Write everything you know about this subject in exactly three
sentences; no more, no less.
(Must have good structure, be logical, and boil down to essential
- Structure/Formula Poems (MH & IP)
a. Students are to write poems according to a formula you give them:
ex: First line is a sentence about the subject
Second line is a descriptive sentence
Third line tells something in the news related to the topic
Fourth line is what someone would say to you about it.
- Concept Map (IP)
a. On overhead, list and map what students give to you, or have one
student do it for the entire class.
b. Students then create their own map, structuring more appropriately
, and adding more lines, descriptors, etc. (Can work in twos.)
- Explanation Writing
Write a lesson explaining to someone who was not present in class
today what was covered. Or explain a key concept to someone who does not
ex: How can two brown-eyed parents have a blue-eyed
(Teacher has to give students structure):
b. Words to use
c. What concepts to explain.
- Entrance/Exit Slips
a. Entrance slips � give to teacher at beginning of class
b. Exit slips � done and collected at the end of class
c. Questions asked:
- Three most important things you learned
- What are you still confused about?
- What would you like to ask about today/tomorrow?
- Twenty Questions (Clifford Schrader)
a. Bring out and display an unusual item
b. Each student in turn must ask a question that can be answered with
"yes" or "no".
c. After every person has asked a question, anyone may ask any number
of "yes" or "no" questions.
d. A person may take a guess as to its use, but he/she is out of the
game if he/she is wrong.
VALUES PROCESSING STRATEGIES:
- Continuum Model (Comfort Index) (Susan Talkmitt & Toni Miller)
a. Use one long line between two extremes and ask students to place a
mark on the line that best represents how they feel about the issue.
Uses: individual, small groups, entire class
Agree Very Much ----------------------- Disagree Very Much
b. Use numbers and the line:
Agree Very Much ---1---2---3---4---5--- Disagree Very Much
c. Use numbers only: (circle the number)
Agree Very Much 1 2 3 4 5 Disagree Very Much
- Risk/Benefit Model (Compares advantages and disadvantages of a
Uses: Individuals, Small groups, entire class
a. Brainstorm all possible choices in a given situation.
b. For each choice:
- list the benefits on one side of the chart and the disadvantages
on the other.
- (optional)weight each advantage and disadvantage according to its
seriousness or desirability/undesirability
- count the number of points in the advantage column and the number
in the disadvantage column. The column with the most "points" wins.
- if it is too close, ask questions like
-Which option seems to have the most benefits?
-Which would I (we) feel most comfortable with?
- Risk/Benefit Model (Anne L. and Richard. P. Hiskes, Science,
Technology, and Policy Decisions. Westview Press Colorado (1986)
a. Identify the problem and basic policy objectives.
b. Formulate alternative courses of action.
c. Identify relative consequences of each alternative.
d. Assign a probability to each relevant consequence.
e. Assign a value, i.e., a numerical cost or benefit, to each consequence.
f. Combine the information obtained in stages 3, 4, 5 and select the best
- Risk Assessment and Risk Management (Living in the Environ-ment: An
Introduction to Environmental Science/Sixth Edition, G. Tyler Miller, Jr.,
�1990 by Wadsworth, Inc., California, pp 458-462)
- System Reliability (%) = technology reliability x human reliability x 100
- Desirability quotient = societal benefits/societal risks
- Large desirability quotient = large societal benefits/small societal
- Very small desirability quotient = very small societal benefits/small
- Small desirability quotient = large societal benefits/much larger
- Uncertain desirability quotient = large benefits/large risks
- Values Comparison (Before And After) (Sharon Zupo and Toni Miller)
a. Using the continuum model above, construct a list of values about a
b. Give it to students before a unit to see how they feel on specific
c. After the unit, give the same instrument again and compare the results.
- Critter Ethics (To show open-ended decisions) (TM)
a. List four animals on the board: Elephant, Ant, Eagle, Butterfly.
b. Ask students to list animals in order of importance and to justify
c. Compare lists and justifications. Discuss idea of open-endedness.
- Decision-Making Model For Bioethical Questions (John Hendrix, Ball
State University, Muncie, Indiana)
a. Identify and Define the Problem.
b. Explain the Ethical Dilemma (which values conflict?)
c. With an "I" value sheet, list five or more personal values
to support or go against the dilemma.
d. Rank the values from 1 (most important) through 5 (least important)
e. Check values 1 and 2 to see if they are in conflict.
f. List as many alternative solutions as possible.
g. Rank alternative solutions.
h. State #1 alternative solution.
i. List and explore values you hold that justify it's being #1 solution
(at least three values).
j. State your least important solution.
k. List and explore values you hold that justify it's being your least
l. State #1 alternative solution again.
m. List as many probable consequences as you can from this solution.
Tell system (who or what is affected), and the consequence to that
n. Place a (+) beside each good consequence and a (-) beside each
o. Tally + and - marks.
p. List any values you have in conflict with your #1 choice. If so, go
through steps 3-16 once again.
q. Give reasons why others may not agree with your solution.
r. Restate the problem and your decision.
- Bullseye Method (Sam Throm)(Uses Kohlberg's model of consciousness
levels of ethical systems)
a. Give a moral dilemma after a thorough informational unit.
b. Ask student or small group to answer the following questions in a
- What should I do? How will it affect me? Is this the right thing to do?
- How will it affect my closest friends/neighbors? Is this the right thing
- How will it affect my neighborhood? Is this right?
- Keep going according to the issue....
c. example: I have leftover oil from a car oil change. Should I:
- i. throw it out with the trash?
- ii. throw it down into the ground?
- iii. throw it into the sewer system?
- iv. take it to be recycled?
- How will it affect me, my neighbors, my city?
- What would happen if other people made the same decision I made?
- How To Create Simulations (Toni Miller)
a. Select a specific Technology Issue.
b. List essential information or knowledge you want students to have.
Teacher should cover this information before simulation begins.
c. Select and define roles (usually six): Following is a guide for role
- Group for the issue
- Group against the issue
- Expert (scientist, usually) � can have two of these, different
- Ethicist (clergy, senator chairing subcommittee)
- Industry representative
d. List information students should research in order to play their roles
e. List specific sub-issues within the larger issue.
f. For each role:
- i. List three or four questions for literature search that will
give students specific knowledge related to the specific role they selected.
- ii. Write a point of view that would be representative for that
g. Divide class into groups of five or six.
h. Self selection of roles works best.
i. Order Of Simulation: (videotape last two steps to show on local
- i. Literature search (background fact-finding)
- ii. Task sheet problem-solving
- iii. Formulation and presentation of group report.
j. Allow for individual expression:
- i. Involvement in local related issues
- ii. Writing of poetry, songs, etc.
- iii. Artwork (can include political cartoons)
- iv. Letters to the editor
- v. Debate
- vi. Newsletter
- vii. Development of unit for instrumentation at elementary/
junior high schools.
- viii. Letters to legislators, recommending attention, policies,
- ix. Any other means appropriate for issue, level of students
SIMULATION GAME STAGES
Toni L. Miller
|FACT - FINDING|
|ROLE - PLAYING:|
(Results of tasks)
|3 � 5 Hours
||2 � 5 Hours||10 � 20 minutes|
comparison of own research with that of others.
||Group relations, role-playing, working through ask sheet.||Public
speaking, acting, writing or combination of these.|
|A-V materials, articles
booklets, filmstrips, videotapes, etc.||Desks or tables which
facilitate discussion; Role sheets, name tags Video camera & recorder.
||Video camera & recorder. Staging area for presenta-tions|
- Research skills
- Identification of pertinent information
- Extricating main ideas
- Scanning text for ideas
- Acceptance of differing versions of an event
- Relating prior knowledge to problem situation
- Following directions
- Group dynamics:
� staying on task
� making contributions
� dealing with dynamics problems in group
� responsibility of individual to group progress
- Abstracting research to appropriate situations
- Identifying values
- Synthesizing ideas
- Analyzing information
- Listening objectively
- Paying attention to group progress, participating
- Clear verbal and written communication of ideas
- Effective speaking
- Effective language use to express thoughts
- Cooperation with group members, responsibility for own part of sim.
- Creativity in developing alternative means of expression of ideas
**Varies with age and complexity; less for higher grades