‘What do you mean by ethical compass?’ Bachelor students’ ideas about being a moral professional



Abstract This article aims to explore the moral ideas and experiences that students at Dutch universities of applied sciences (UAS) have of being a professional with an ‘ethical compass.’ Semi-structured interviews were held with 36 fourth-year Bachelor students divided over four institutions and three different programmes: Initial Teacher Education, Business Services and Information and Communication Technology. Findings show that students say they strive to be(come) moral professionals, but that they have difficulties recognising and articulating the moral aspects of their professional roles. They seem to lack a moral vocabulary and the moral knowledge to verbalise their aspirations and to provide arguments to explicate or legitimise their moral behaviour. While most students were critical of the support they received from their universities, they indicated that various other role models and (work) experiences did have a strong and positive influence on their moral development. In this article, we reflect on the findings in relation to international empirical research on students’ moral development and highlight the characteristics of UAS students.
Date made available2020

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