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Introduction to the Project on Bioethics for Informed Choices - page 4 / 115





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534Challenges for Bioethics from Asia

decision-making, questions or ranking exercises. It is important for students to identify where they stand in regard to a particular issue.

Analysis activities involve students gathering data from a wide range of sources and using structured reasoning followed by discussion to analyse evidence on values issues in a logical way. Although it is accepted that there is no “right” answer, the objective of this model is to help students exercise reason and to make the most defensible value judgement. There are several procedures that belong to this model. Specific dilemmas can be given to students (vignettes or case studies) to provide a stimulus and a specific context for analysis. Other procedures such as “risk /benefit” and “advantage/ disadvantage” tables, have been described by Butterfield (1987). Weighing up background factors by using mnemonics, for example “Plus/Minus/Interesting” (PMI) and “Consider All Factors” (CAF) have been described by De Bono (1992). This model is useful in that multiple perspectives related to the background information for specific situations can be analysed. However, “weighing up the balance” can often be difficult in some issues.

More recently, inquiry approaches, which also develop information processing skills related to researching and writing, have been advocated (Armstrong & Weber, 1991; Conner, 2000; Dawson, 1996; Jarvis et al., 1998). These approaches include a range of activities, but rely more on a research process to facilitate students’ independent inquiry. The rationale behind using an independent-inquiry approach is that if values were taught didactically they might not be internalised (Fisher, 1998). Inquiry can be individual or collaborative.

Collaborative group investigation or inquiry in the broadest sense (inquiry into affective dimensions as well as facts) seems to support student learning in socio-science areas (Solomon, 1991). Working collaboratively allows students to explore their existing views, which is considered essential in issues education (Cheek, 1992). It also allows for explicitly connecting new information to existing ideas through dialogic means with peers and the teacher (Tsai, 2002). Vygotsky (1978) reminds us that our intellectual range can always be extended through the mediation and interaction with others.

Unfortunately some students in senior classes in New Zealand schools still expect to be 'spoon-fed', to be told the facts and where and how. This has also been a strong element of the culture in science teaching in the past, linked to teachers imparting facts and students perceiving that they do not need to question or think for themselves. This can be linked to a more traditional image of science and science teaching (Carr et al., 1994). In contrast, student-centred approaches to learning - constructivist, generative and inquiry approaches - require the teacher to act as a facilitator rather than act as an authority.

What characterises a facilitative approach to teaching?

Facilitative approaches to teaching have been described in a number of ways eg. classroom manager, overseer (Hand & Prain, 1995), motivator, diagnostician, guide, innovator, experimenter and researcher (Osborne & Freyberg, 1985). Although these describe roles that might indicate the part played by the teacher, they do not indicate how the teacher might enact these roles. This section of the paper describes how teachers can actively facilitate learning through establishing and maintaining relationships, assisting group work and discussions, and fostering independent learning.

Establishing and maintaining classroom relationships

The teacher can model respectful interactions so that students listen to each other even if they do not agree with the view being expressed. Discussion of the plurality and ambiguity of issues is important, rather than trying to extract the right answer. The teacher needs to ensure and model fairness and mutual respect for ideas as well as dealing with inappropriate responses in positive ways.

Good teachers exhibit the characteristics, practices and values of good inquiry in all aspects of their teaching and seek to provide finely tuned, learner -sensitive guidance and support to their students as they move towards intellectual independence. Derek Hodson (1998) advocates that teachers should allow students to have some control over planning their work and what

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