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General Education Assessment

Ethical Reasoning

What is Ethical Reasoning?

According to the definition provided by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) as part of their Project, Valued Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education (VALUE), “Ethical Reasoning is reasoning abut right and wrong human conduct. It requires students to be able to assess their own ethical values and the social context of problems, recognize ethical issues in a variety of settings, think about how different ethical perspectives might be applied to ethical dilemmas, and consider the ramifications of alternative actions. Students’ ethical self-identify evolves as they practice ethical decision-making skills and learn how to describe and analyze positions on ethical issues.” (

The VALUE rubric for Ethical Reasoning is one of 16 rubrics that were developed as part of an AACU project. With input from faculty across the United States, they were able to articulate fundamental criteria for sixteen common learning outcomes.  The components identified for the Ethical Reasoning Rubric include:

  • Ethical Self-Awareness
  • Understanding Different Ethical Perspectives/Concepts
  • Ethical Issue Recognition
  • Application of Ethical Perspectives/Concepts
  • Evaluation of Different Ethical Perspectives/Concepts

Ethical Reasoning VALUE Rubric

Multi-State Collaborative To Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment

The Multi-State Collaborative to Advance Learning Outcomes Assessment (MSC) is an assessment initiative for general education outcomes/essential learning outcomes based on actual student work. Currently many schools use a nationally normed test to evaluate general education outcomes. This new model is based on authentic student work rather than a national test. It is sponsored by the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U).

In fall 2014, a pilot assessment project is being implemented in eight states (approximately 68 other two-year and four-year institutions). Hazard Community and Technical College, University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University are the other Kentucky schools participating in the project.

This innovative model will utilize common rubrics that were developed as part of the Association of American Colleges and Universities ongoing VALUE (Valid Assessment of Learning in Undergraduate Education) initiative. The pilot will assess authentic student work in the areas of quantitative literacy and written communication.

Participating faculty are asked to submit actual work of students from five courses in five different subject areas for quantitative literacy and five for written communication from our fall courses. We will be using an assignment already in place, pulling the sample from all students with over 45 credit hours.

In spring 2015, a two-day workshop is being scheduled with faculty from each participating institution to assess the students’ work using the VALUE rubrics.

As with any pilot, its purpose is to examine the feasibility of this model and to identify potential problems and “glitches” for cross-institutional use. Faculty participating will have the opportunity to work with other faculty to develop an assessment process based on authentic student work at the program and institutional level evaluation. Faculty will also gain experience in using the VALUE rubrics and be involved with an assessment project that provides meaningful assessment of our students.

This is a very exciting project of cross-institutional and cross-state efforts to improve the assessment of our students in achieving key learning outcomes.

For additional information, contact Karman K. Wheeler ( or (859) 246-6567.