iPads, iPhones, and Implications

on Students’ Critical Thinking

Donna M. Schaeffer, PhD

Associate Professor, School of Business Administration,

Marymount University, 2807 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22207



According to recent data from the National Center for Educational Statistics, 21% of all undergraduate degrees are awarded in the discipline of business.

By the way, half of those are to women.


Marymount grads entering the hall, 2010.


·       The Department of Labor identified critical thinking as the raw material that underlies fundamental workplace competencies, such as problem solving, decision making, planning, and risk management.


·       Critical thinking is rated the #1 skill of increasing importance over the next five years based on a 2009 national survey of employers.


“Whatever the answer to essential questions of society and individual human beings may be, education is surely its major component. But what would education be without its ethical dimension? Many of us believe them to be inseparable.”

Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity








(Source: Business Week)cocacola.jpg

"A billion hours ago, human life appeared on earth.
A billion minutes ago, Christianity emerged.
A billion seconds ago, the Beatles changed music.
A billion Coca-Colas ago was yesterday morning."

Robert Goizueta, Late President of Coca-Cola, 2001.


·       20% of college studentswill own an iPad or tablet computer  by the fall of 2012.

·        53% owned a Smartphone in 2010



iPads and iPhones in the news


wired cover.jpg


One Million Workers, 90 Million iPhones, and 17 Suicides

Wired, February 2011


Made in China

New York Times, February 2012



Can Apple make a More Ethical iPhone

Washington Post, March 30, 2012


Reading Assignment:

Beyond Compliance: Globalization Demands More Effective Programs by Kirk Hanson, Director, Markkhula center for Applied Ethics, Santa Clara University. October, 2011.


Podcast: This American Life


454: Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory


Aired January 6, 2012

454 mr daisy.jpg

460 retracted.jpg


460: Retraction


Aired 16 March, 2012



Group Activity:

Learners, working in small groups, select a tablet or smartphone product from a well-known company.

They access the current Greenpeace Guide to Consumer Electronics and read the report for the company they selected.

Groups report back to class on well their selected company performs in terms of products and sustainable operations and learners advise friends who want to purchase a product from that company. 


Reflective Assignment:

·       January, 2012: Learners wrote letters to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO in which they reflected on what they had learned from Mr. Daisy’s visit to an Apple factory.

·       April, 2012: Learners revise their letters based on what they have learned in the retraction.


·       Expected: Learners are more aware about what it is like to work in the factory that produces many of the gadgets they use every day.

·       Unexpected: Real word application of ethics in journalism