Case-based knowledge and ethics education: improving learning and transfer through emotionally rich cases

Sci Eng Ethics. 2013 Mar;19(1):265-86. doi: 10.1007/s11948-011-9318-7. Epub 2011 Oct 27.


Case-based instruction is a stable feature of ethics education, however, little is known about the attributes of the cases that make them effective. Emotions are an inherent part of ethical decision-making and one source of information actively stored in case-based knowledge, making them an attribute of cases that likely facilitates case-based learning. Emotions also make cases more realistic, an essential component for effective case-based instruction. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of emotional case content, and complementary socio-relational case content, on case-based knowledge acquisition and transfer on future ethical decision-making tasks. Study findings suggest that emotional case content stimulates retention of cases and facilitates transfer of ethical decision-making principles demonstrated in cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knowledge Bases
  • Learning*
  • Male
  • Moral Development*
  • Social Environment
  • Teaching / methods*