A Modern Twist on the Beaumont and St. Martin Case: Encouraging Analysis and Discussion in the Bioethics Classroom with Reflective Writing and Concept Mapping
Author(s)Carlos C. Goller
Keywordsethical dilemma, reflective writing, concept map, bioethics, writing-to-learn, analysis, responsible conduct of research, RCR
Special aspects of education
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AbstractHistorical ethical dilemmas are a valuable tool in bioethics courses. However, garnering student interest in reading and discussing the assigned cases in the classroom can be challenging. In an effort to actively engage undergraduate and graduate students in an Ethical Issues in Biotechnology course, an activity was developed to encourage reflection on a classical ethical dilemma between a patient, St. Martin, and his employer/caretaker, Beaumont. Two different texts were used to analyze the ethical ramifications of this relationship: a chapter in a popular press book and a short perspective in a medical journal. Participants read the book chapter for homework and discussed it in class. This easy read highlights the fundamental ethical issues in the relationship between two men. Students were then provided with a second text focusing on the scientific accomplishments achieved through Beaumont's experimentation on St. Martin. A structured worksheet prompted participants to reflect on their feelings after reading each text and create a concept map depicting the dilemma. Student-generated concept maps and written reflections indicate participants were able to list the ethical issues, analyze the situation, and evaluate the information provided. This activity not only encouraged higher-level thinking and reflection, it also mirrored the course's structured approach of using concept mapping and reflection to dissect ethical dilemmas.