HOW TEACHERS USE THE GAME
The game begins with students creating an avatar, or virtual representation of themselves. As they play, the game changes with each decision they make, so every student’s experience is unique. At the end of the game, students get an Ethical Profile, a result of their cumulative choices.
“Professors can use it in a lot of different ways,” Haugh says. “I tend to assign the first episode — Episode 2 — outside of class. I ask students to play it at home, and it takes them about half an hour. The next class, we’ll usually talk about the various ethical dilemmas, and we’ll isolate a few and show them a pie chart of what percentage of the class had what answer. We can break that down by gender, or by international students, or other categories.”
In the class after that, Haugh says, students play the second episode in small groups so they can talk through their decisions and make collective answers. It’s very different from playing on your own, he says, because you have to talk to each other about how you want to answer, and justify why.
Most of the Kelley ethics teachers use the game similarly, Fort says, and students are graded on short quizzes, assignments, and some short papers.
STUDENTS WARM UP TO DISCUSSION
So far, Fort says, students have reacted positively to the game. “When most students come in, they’re not sure what to expect, but it seems like they’re appreciative of the effort we took to reach them,” he says. “We can lead an ethics course without a simulation, but the fact that we went beyond that to find something that might make the course more meaningful to them — it warms them up to discussion.”
Haugh agrees that students are responding well. He says The Crimson Dilemma’s practical approach to ethics — a little less philosophical and a little more “real-world” — is the right direction to be going.
“I think something like seven of our ethics faculty have won teaching awards in the last few years,” Fort says. “Some of these are judged based on student evaluation. So if you have that many winning teaching awards, something is happening that the students like.”