Team-based Simulations: Learning Ethical Conduct in Teacher Trainee Programs

May. 01, 2013

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 33 (2013), p. 1-12.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The main objective of this study was to identify emergent learning aspects of team-based
simulations (TBS) among teacher trainees through transcribed videotaped simulations of critical ethical incidents.

The participants were 50 teacher trainees who were enrolled in a teacher training program at one of the largest universities in Israel.
All the participants were during their first year of practice teaching.
The study comprised 50 simulation sessions, which included role playing and discussion.


The author found that the TBS offers an attractive (e.g., role playing, video, investigation) and at the same time, effective learning experience (e.g., building a code of ethical conduct) in a realistic context, but without the pressure that accompanies real life contexts.
The different activities that are involved in TBS enable the testing of different strategies for solving ethical problems.

Findings point to a four-dimensional model of ‘Learning ethical conduct through TBS.’
First, TBS enables trainees to learn to make decisions within a “supportive-forgiving” environment in which both the participants who role-play the simulations and those who discuss and investigate them can learn from the role-players’ behavior without the risk of harming others.
Second, the use of TBS may increase trainees’ awareness of their responsibility to learn how to develop standards of care for their students.
Third, TBS helps teacher trainees to learn how to reduce colleagues’ misconduct.
Fourth, TBS helps trainees develop an integrative approach as they have to consider different perspectives simultaneously.


The author concludes that the findings emphasize the complexity of ethical dilemmas, and indicate that reaching ethical decisions depends on the atmosphere, context, and people involved.
This study shows how the same interactions may lead to differences between the decisions made in the simulation and the decisions made in the actual event.
Thus, the unique learning strategy of TBS, which provides a relaxed atmosphere and encourages contemplation of different perspectives, may be an ideal method to encourage teachers to reflect on their perceptions regarding ethical conduct in schools.
By incorporating TBS into teacher training programs, trainees will learn how to observe, reflect, and think analytically about their critical ethical incidents.

Practical implications

This study suggests a different way to train teachers to become ethical teachers, through team simulations based on critical ethical incidents.
Through TBS, teachers have an opportunity to develop specific codes of ethical conduct, depending on the specific context, emotional situation, and cultural factors involved in the simulation.

The use of TBS provides an important venue for trainees to experience ethical dilemmas and decide on a response without worrying about time constraints and the possibility of hurting someone.
By integrating TBS into the curriculum of training programs, teachers may have the opportunity to reflect on their actions in a guided environment and understand that this is an important step in truly becoming exemplary teachers.

Updated: Apr. 12, 2015