The active engagement model of applied ethics as a structure for ethical reflection in the context of course-based service learning

Kathryn C. Nesbit, Gail M. Jensen, Clare Delany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this case report is to explore the active engagement model as a tool to illuminate the ethical reflections of student physical therapists in the context of service learning in a developing country. Methods: The study participants were a convenience sample of six students. The study design is a case report using a phenomenological perspective. Data were collected from students’ narrative writing and semi-structured interviews. The steps of the active engagement model provided the structural framework for student responses. The analysis process included open coding, selective coding, and member checking. Results: Results showed the emergence of two main themes: 1) gathering rich detail and 2) developing independent moral identity. Students’ descriptions of their relationships were detailed and included explanations about the complexities of the sociocultural context. Independent and deliberate agency was evident by the students’ preparedness to be collaborative, to raise ethical questions, to identify ethically important aspects of their practice and to describe their professional roles. The students noted that the use of the model increased their engagement in the ethical decision-making process and their recognition of ethical questions. Conclusions: This case report illustrates attributes of the active engagement model which have implications for teaching ethical reflection: scaffolding for ethical reflection, use of narrative for reflection, reflection in action, and illumination of relevant themes. Each of these attributes leads to the development of meaningful ethical reflection. The attributes of this model shown by this case report have potential applications to teaching ethical reflection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPhysiotherapy Theory and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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