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610Challenges for Bioethics from Asia

Taiwanese Trials of Bioethics in Freshman English Classes

- Jin Hwa Lee .

China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan, ROC

Email: beryl.lee@msa.hinet.net

The present study is aimed to investigate the productivity of the Taiwanese trials of bioethical teaching materials developed by Darryl R. J. Macer, the director of Eubios Institute, who has been dedicated to bioethical education in different cultures. The researcher will first demonstrate the way she taught the materials, present the experiences that she underwent with her students and analyze several impressive cases in the classroom, in the hope of shedding lights on the preliminary practice of bioethics education in Taiwan. In addition, she would provide rationales to justify that the materials are beneficial to university students in Taiwan in the sense of enhancing students’ bioethical maturity as well as learning motivation in English language learning, based on the assumptions of Content-Based approach of second language teaching. Finally, the researcher will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the materials, the interdisciplinary education and the international collaboration of the project in concern.  

Today I will share with you my experience of using the full-text bioethical teaching material. Being the teacher of China Medical University, in fall 2003, I was assigned to teach seven paramedical departments, such as Environment Health, Sports Medicine, Oral Hygiene, to name just a few. In the freshman English class, basically students and I meet two hours a week.

Since mid-November of 2003, we have spent about eight weeks or so to focus on bioethical education in the English class. During the process, I adhere to the principle of autonomy, which is one of the most important principles not only for the field of bioethics but also for TESL, i.e. teaching English as a second language.

At the very beginning of the fall semester, i.e., September of 2003, I ask the students to divide themselves into groups of 4-6 people. They choose the partners they prefer to stay with. I give the assistance only when they have difficulty looking for team members.

Then after thorough discussion, each group picks up one topic from the bioethics textbook and they have to justify their choice by listing their reasons. The chapters chosen and their supporting reasons are full of diversity. For example, groups fascinated by Ethical limits of animal use report that they love the programs of the Discovery channel. Woman students who center on Lifestyle and fertility reveal their concerns about the increasing cases of infertility in the modern society. As for Genetically modified foods, the groups report that they are familiar with its background knowledge which, as they believe, will be helpful for their presentation. In regard to Telling the truth about terminal cancer, some say that it is a hot topic of soap operas. Some say that their team members have undergone the experience of losing family members who had been inflicted by terminal cancer. So the personal experience in turn motivates them to pick up this topic.

After the settlement of the topics, they start reading the text by themselves. Since the full text of the teaching material is notably long and sometimes sophisticated and difficult, I advise them to split the burden. In other words, one student is responsible for decoding about two pages of the material. If they have any specific questions, they know when and where to talk to me. However, they are strongly encouraged to undergo the experience of the initial reading of the material by themselves.

 Some groups do come to me and ask for help. For example, the groups in charge of Euthanasia have difficulties in understanding some of the details, such as the slippery-slope effect. Groups reporting on Organ Donation and Brain Death express their concerns about the scarcity of the related information of the given topics. They worry that the insufficiency might make their presentation less informative and therefore affects their grades. In this case, I inform them to make use of the teaching notes or to search for the web sites listed in the textbook.

. pp. 610-612 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).

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