In 2018, Dr. Abiola Makinwa of The Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS) was awarded a Comenius Senior Fellow Grant from the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO) to develop a digital learning module focused on integrity and anti-corruption education. The goal of the Comenius grant is to encourage educational innovation and bring about social change.
Need for Educational Innovation: The globalization of the world economy has been accompanied by the internationalization of white-collar crime. As continued news of financial and corruption scandals show, many professionals who have been trained in business ethics are not ACTING on that knowledge. A good quality education must seek to ensure that professionals are not only equipped with relevant knowledge, but also, that they are equipped with the skills to withstand the pressures of doing ‘whatever it takes’ to meet business goals or succumbing to perverse incentive schemes.
Thus, the key questions addressed by this education innovation is: what tools can we develop to help train our professionals to ACT in alignment with what they KNOW is right; and how can we train them to become more RESILIENT when facing ethical pressures?
The answer is not more of the same, in other words, more reason-based, critical thinking that focuses on extrinsic principles. Rather, the approach of the IntegrityDLM is to help the student look inwards, to increase awareness of their intrinsic core principles and values, and the importance of living in alignment with these.
The Goal: The focus of the IntegrityDLM training is on practicing HOW to act with integrity as opposed to more intellectual or philosophical approaches to teaching ethics. Our intention is to align education with ‘real world’ circumstances, by providing a personalized space for integrity training. This personalized digital integrity training will provide students with a framework that they can apply whenever confronted with inevitable moral and ethical dilemmas using ‘moral reminders’, ‘moral commitments’ and ‘moral reference points.
Throughout the module, students practice HOW to respond to ethical challenges in alignment with their personal values and build ‘moral muscle memory’ and moral resilience. The use of a digital tool ensures a private, personal, ‘safe space’ for self-reflection and personal insights.
The IntegrityDLM has adopted an exercise developed by Sheehan and Schmidt (2015) and modified it into the digital Values Game, which helps students to identify and articulate their personal values. The IntegrityDLM also adopted Professor Mary Gentile’s ‘Giving Voice to Values’, a post decision-making pedagogy (Gentile 2010). Her GVV methodology has inspired over 1000 pilots across all continents. This pedagogy is based on research that shows that rehearsal at the cognitive and intellectual level, and the personal behavioral or experiential level, influences the ability to act with moral conviction.
Completion: Different aspects of the IntegrityDLM were trialed with Compliance Minor Students from 2019 to 2020 and the project has been refined to reflect clear learning objectives and usability for students. The successful trials have led to a final product that can be used, not just by Compliance Minor students, but across any curriculum.
The IntegrityDLM is very much focused on the young undergraduate. Educators engaged in preparing students for a professional life can use the IntegrityDLM as a stand-alone-module or adapt it to better suit their needs. The digital and interactive format of the IntegrityDLM allows Universities of Applied Sciences and other institutions to interact across this platform and collaborate in building an ecosystem of integrity educators, particularly at the undergraduate level. As an English-language, stand-alone module, it can be introduced to undergraduates in any region of the world and can be used to promote the cross-cultural exchange, furthering life-skills of intercultural interaction.
The IntegrityDLM was launched for the general public on the 9th of November.
NRO Projectendatabase Onderwijsonderzoek, A.O.Makinwa, Integrity Education Using an Anti-Corruption Compliance Digital Learning Module, https://www.nro.nl/onderzoeksprojecten-vinden/?projectid=405-18865-478-integrity-education-using-an-anti-corruption-compliance-digital-learning-module
Mary Gentile, ‘Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What’s Right’ (Yale University Press, 2010)
Norman T. Sheehan and Joseph A. Schmidt, ‘Preparing accounting students for ethical decision making: Developing individual codes of conduct based on personal values’ (2015) 33 J. of Acc. Ed. 33 (2015) 183