Teaching ethics using small-group, problem-based learning

James W. Tysinger, Leah K. Klonis, John Z. Sadler, James M. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Ethics is the emphasis of our first-year Introduction to Clinical Medicine-1 course. Introduction to Clinical Medicine-1 uses problem-based learning to involve groups of seven to nine students and two facilitators in realistic clinical cases. The cases emphasize ethics, but also include human behaviour, basic science, clinical medicine, and prevention learning issues. Three cases use written vignettes, while the other three cases feature standardized patients. Groups meet twice for each case. In session one, students read the case introduction, obtain data from the written case or standardized patient, identify the case's ethical problems, formulate learning issues, discuss ways to resolve the moral conflicts, and assign research responsibilities. In session two, students discuss their assigned learning issues and specify and justify clinical actions to address the case's ethical dilemmas. Following three cases, groups write an essay discussing what they learned and describing how they would approach and resolve the case's learning issues.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-318
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Ethics
  • Problem-based learning
  • Small-group learning
  • Standardized patients
  • Student-centred learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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