What Are Some Good Ethical Dilemma Scenarios for the Classroom?

One ethical dilemma that can be used in the classroom presents a scenario in which a student is smart, but not a good test taker. The student understands mathematical concepts and is faced with a test wherein she is nervous and unable to focus. She has been able to answer similar questions before. She is able to see her friend’s answer on the test, so she copies the answer and then figures out the problem from there.

The scenario presents the question asking if what the student did was right, and if she should confess. When asked why students cheat, the most common answers are that no one is hurt by it, the teacher is to blame, the work is meaningless or the students feel a need to please their families. The students may deny responsibility, or have a fear of failure. Classroom discussion can ask if any of these reasons are more or less correct, and why they feel that way.

In another scenario, a teen is offered a summer job by a friend of his dad. He learns that his wages are twice that of other employees who have been there much longer. When he talks to his co-worker about this, she asks him not to tell the boss, as that could cause trouble for her and others and she has a family to support. The scenario asks if he should try to bring up the issue with his boss, or continue on knowing the wages are unfairly distributed.