A Self-assessment Approach to Adolescents’ Cyberethics Education

Wing Shui Ng
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 19  •  2020  •  pp. 555-570

Teachers usually educate students’ cyberethics using debate, case-based discussion, and role-playing instructional methods in a face-to-face setting. With the presence of teacher and peers, students may not be willing to share their true attitudes, and it may affect the effectiveness of the teaching methods. To tackle the challenge, the author applied a teaching method with a core component of a pressure-free self-assessment approach to improving adolescents’ cyberethics education. This study aimed to explore the impact of the self-assessment method on students’ self-knowledge and self-awareness of cyberethics.

Since people usually use their own devices in an individual environment to participate in online activities, going online can be regarded as a private act. The behaviours of youngsters in the online environment may be different from that in the classroom when they are engaged in a face-to-face discussion, especially as they are not required to use their real names to go online. Research has suggested that youngsters have a higher inclination to misbehave online. Together with the fact that they are regular Internet users, and they are overrepresented online, there is an urgent need to foster ethical online behaviour in adolescents.

A group of 28 students of age about 14 participated in this study. They were studying in secondary level 3 of a government-subsidised secondary school. All of them were required to take an information technology course in their formal curriculum. The researcher applied a framework of adolescents’ cyberethics education to nurture the students with appropriate cyberethics. It includes four dimensions, namely information security, privacy, intellectual property and netiquette. In the first phase of the teaching method, the students received a lecture on cyberethics to obtain related knowledge. In the second phase, the students were engaged in a self-assessment exercise on cyberethics. Data were collected using a knowledge test, a questionnaire, and the self-assessment exercise.

This paper highlights the challenge arisen from the face-to-face setting of commonly used instructional methods of cyberethics education, such as role-playing and debate. This study suggested a self-assessment teaching method with the rationales underpinned by theories in the area of social psychology. This paper provides detailed elaboration on the instructional method. The author also suggested a framework of adolescents’ cyberethics education.

The students considered the self-assessment exercise allowed them to reflect on their attitudes on cyberethics. It thereby enhanced their self-knowledge on cyberethics. They also expressed that the method was more effective for self-reflection compared with commonly used instructional methods. Moreover, importantly, they stated that they would be more aware of cyberethics in their future online activities.

Teachers are advised to use a self-assessment exercise together with commonly used instructional methods, such as case-based discussion, debate, and role-playing, in their future practices of cyberethics education.

Researchers could consider youngsters’ cognitive and psychological development, and social and emotional factors to improve adolescents’ cyberethics education.

It is anticipated that youngsters would have a higher level of awareness to uphold information security, protect privacy, respect intellectual property and maintain appropriate netiquette. They could then demonstrate more appropriate behaviours when they go online after receiving cyberethics education using the approach elaborated in this paper.

It is valuable to explore how different factors in cognitive, psychological, social, and emotional domains affect youngsters’ online behaviours. Future research may also design effective instructional methods to improve adolescents’ cyberethics education.

cyberethics, moral education, self-presentation, self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-assessment
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