Honor students teach ethics to Terre Haute North business classes

November 19, 2013

Indiana State University student Andrew Feutz posed a question to a class of local high school students: a new company coming to a town would emit waste and be harmful to the community, but it would bring a lot of jobs and the company has a reputation of generously giving scholarships to local college-bound students.

Feutz then asked the class: should the company be allowed in the town?

Feutz was part of a group of four Indiana State University students who taught local high school students about business ethics through case studies that were presented during the classes at Terre Haute North Vigo High School. The project started when Kim LaGrange, coordinator of the Meis Student Development Center and instructor in Indiana State's Scott College of Business, and Abe Nasser, teacher at Terre Haute North, discussed a collaboration that the college students could present to Nasser's business class.

"This project helped me take the material we learned and really wrap my head around it," said Jonathan Wachala, a junior marketing major at Indiana State from Munster. "It made me really look at the material in depth, but also from a different perspective. Seeing it from another perspective has really helped me with ethics."

The Indiana State students - Feutz, Wachala, Taryn Ash and Simone Hill - conducted research and coupled it with other lessons about ethics to create the presentation.

"When I was in high school, ethics was never brought up in any of the classes at all," said Feutz, a junior finance and financial services double major at Indiana State, "so I didn't really have an idea what it was before I came to college."

The students taught basic information about business ethics including what is involved, how opportunities in business can lead to unethical decisions and decision making guides such as the utilitarian and individualism approaches.

"They really had done a lot of preparation so it was very rewarding to me and them for being so successful in working with the high school students," said LaGrange. "They did a great job."

The Indiana State students created case studies which varied from hiring a friend instead of a more qualified candidate to someone selling a product overseas that would not meet product quality standards in the U.S.

"My class didn't realize that management for large corporations constantly has to make decisions based on ethics, and how different situations can affect an individual or an entire group of people," Nasser said. "This was eye opening for them."

The Indiana State students first presented the case studies to the Terre Haute North groups who came up with an initial response. The Indiana State students then taught the ethics lesson then asked the high school students if their answers changed.

"They loved the format of the activity and especially the energy of the presenters," said Liz Kauffman, Terre Haute North teacher of a class that went through the ethics lesson. "The presentation helped the high school students step ‘outside the box,' including interacting with each other about a business situation and presenting in front of the class."

The group needed to contemplate the business lessons more deeply, in order to have a firm enough grasp to write the case studies and be able to present them to the high school groups, LaGrange said.

"This project definitely helped them solidify their understanding of ethics," LaGrange said of the Sycamores. "I think it deepened their knowledge of ethics, it improved their presentation skills and improved their facilitation skills."

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Media-Business/Students-giving-ethics/i-z4W8R9W/1/L/10_31_13_THN_ethics_presentation-2960-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)Indiana State University student Andrew Feutz talks with students at Terre Haute North Vigo High School. Feutz was part of a group of Indiana State students who led lessons on business ethics to several classes at the high school. The lessons included case studies to illustrate the complexities that are sometimes involved in making critical decisions.

Photo: http://isuphoto.smugmug.com/Other/Media-Services/Media-Business/Students-giving-ethics/i-388BVwn/1/L/10_31_13_THN_ethics_presentation-2857-L.jpg (ISU/Tony Campbell)Indiana State University student Jonathan Wachala talks with students at Terre Haute North Vigo High School. Wachala was part of a group of Indiana State students who gave several lessons about ethics to several classes at the school.

Contact: Kim LaGrange, coordinator of the Meis Student Development Center, Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-4580 or kimberly.lagrange@indstate.edu

Writer: Beth Pickerill, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3773 or bpickerill1@sycamores.indstate.edu