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Quest II

"In considering problems of society or in their everyday lives, our graduates will, I hope, look for evidence rather than react on the basis of unreasoning prejudice; they will be aware of the implications of their values but not let their values close their minds." - Wilbert McKeachie and Marilla Svinicki, McKeachie's Teaching Tips, pg. 336.


  • Reinforce the outcomes of Quest I courses by continuing conversations about liberal education, campus resources, the USP, their Essential Learning Outcomes, and the Signature Questions.
  • Introduce and explore a second Signature Question.
  • Infuse the course with opportunities for Ethical Reasoning, the hallmark of Quest II courses in USP, using "case study" and other engaging learning methods to enhance student learning.
  • Explore "plagiarism" as an ethical issue in academic life, investigating how knowledge is constructed.
  • Continue to provide a positive, supportive first-year experience for all students while challenging them to question their assumptions.
  • Utilize the Learning Communities present in your courses.
  • Enable students' documentation of and reflection upon learning, reinforcing the use of the ePortfolio.

Ethical Reasoning

All Quest II courses must introduce students to the basics of ethical reasoning, as noted in the Faculty Senate-approved Quest II Parameters.

What does this mean?
For students to engage in higher-order ethical reasoning later in their academic careers, they must be given an introduction in the early years of their coursework.  Student need an "entry point."  To that end, Quest II courses encourage students to:

  1. Become aware of their own perspectives and the frames of reference they use to make ethical decisions;
  2. Recognize the complexity inherent in ethical decision-making;
  3. Compare and contrast the ethical reasoning of divergent groups or individuals on issues central to course content; and
  4. Articulate their reasoning.
  5. Question their assumptions.
  6. Explore the ethics of information literacy (plagiarism).

Ethical reasoning should not be thought of as a separate topic from the Signature Question; rather, the Signature Question and ethical  reasoning should work together in each Quest II course.

Top 10 Quest II Ideas from January 2014 Workshop

1. Small Teams- Larger learning communities? Strategically establish and use small teams to build belonging and accountability into class process throughout the semester.

2. Attendance - Reinforce the importance of being present by taking attendance in an obvious way during each class and by emailing each student who is absent.  Consider expecting students to call absent team members to check on them.

3. First-Year Student Info - Use these new student resources to reinforce important info. Questions from the quiz or comments from the video will make useful discussion starters. These ideas came from student survey results. Links to the quiz and video will be available right here before the semester begins.

4. Co-Curricular Activities & Learning- Include a campus activity attendance/reflection assignment in Quest II to support your learning outcomes.  This element of QI was especially successful!

5.  Case Study Assignments-To engage students in ethical reasoning, use case studies for simulation and role-taking assignments (not just lecture illustration).

6. Class Rituals - Build community and encourage synthesis by using rituals to start and end class.

Ritual Examples:

  • Open class with a "Daily DQ" (discussion question) provided by a team.  The question needs to provoke discussion that reveals ethical reasoning (e.g. What makes you happy?).
  • Close each class session with  a "Wrap" - with teams assigned to provide summaries of the session.

7.  Direct Instruction - Be direct as you lead students in discussions about college level and course-specific expectations for reading, studying, discussion, writing, speaking, behavior at campus events, and more. (Many Quest I students did not know what a "syllabus" was!)

8.  Cognitive Dissonance - As you ask students to explore ethical reasoning, remind them that frustration, anxiety, and ambiguity are catalysts for learning!   Again, be direct about how they are feeling as they are being challenged to examine ethical reasoning.

9.  Plagiarism Focus - In the Information Literacy portion of the Quest II Speaking and Writing courses, connect to the Quest II ethical reasoning theme by exploring plagiarism, teaching students about intellectual property and how knowledge is constructed.  Check in with Ted Mulvey, Information Literacy Librarian, for more resources.

10.  Paired Instructor Syllabus Connection - Quest I instructors are clear!!  Connecting with the paired instructors is incredibly helpful in many ways.  Share your syllabus and schedule card with and we'll provide you with a link to info about your paired instructor(s)' courses.   Click HERE to seeing the pairings.


More Quest II resources:

Ethical Reasoning Case Study Websites:

  • Vanderbilt University: Center for Ethics (case study resource page)