It is challenging to fit ethics training into graduate programs, and smaller organizations sometimes lack the resources. At Angelo State University in Texas, faculty shortened an existing, successful two-day professional and research ethics training program for graduate students to a single day. Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of the new one-day program. (Read more here.)

“A shorter program could potentially be more useful for smaller universities that may not have the resources available to implement a two-day program,” explains Cheryl Stenmark, PhD, lead author and professor in Angelo State’s department of psychology and sociology.

To cut the time allotted for ethics training to just one day, faculty eliminated a lengthy assessment conducted before and after the program in favor of shorter ones. “We retained all of the informational content of the original training,” Stenmark notes.

The modified training program still includes lecture, discussion, and case activities. However, the original training included multiple case study activities for students that covered the same ground. “We selected one of those activities and eliminated the others,” Stenmark reports.

Researchers wanted to know if the shorter program still would be effective in terms of improving ethical decision-making. “We measured several indices of ethical decision-making and compared those measurements from before the training to after the training,” Stenmark explains.

Stenmark and a colleague measured perceptions of ethical issues, markers of cognition involved in ethical decision-making, and reactions to the training. “There were significant findings in all three categories of measurement, indicating that the one-day program was, indeed, effective,” Stenmark says.

Notably, the shorter program resulted in significantly improved ethical decision-making. Participants reacted positively to the training. “The modified program was effective,” Stenmark concludes. A program that is similar to this also could work in clinical practice settings. “In fact, it could be particularly useful in applied settings, where organizations may have limited time and resources to devote to training programs,” she offers.