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The Role of Ethics in the Classroom

Read the article by Tabachnick, Keith-Spiegel, and Pope. Consider response categories and think about which response category most closely aligns with how you might respond to each survey item. Consider how your responses compare to that of the survey participants. Reflect on any findings from the study that surprised you. Finally, discuss the role of ethics in the classroom.

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Teachers play many different roles. At any given moment, they are a parental figure, a counsellor, a psychologist, discipliner, educator, and more. As such, it is important to consider ethical boundaries in teaching so as not to blur the line between actual responsibility and an action that they should not be completing. With this in mind, the author's of this study recently conducted a comprehensive survey relating to beliefs and behaviors of psychologists who were actually performing the role of teacher. The focus was on those individuals who worked within an institution of higher education. Participants were to look at 63 different behaviors typically encountered and remark about the degree to which they considered each such behavior to be ethical. The behaviors that were examined were quite varied, ranging from course content, evaluation of students, educational environment, disrespectful behavior, research and publication issues, financial and material transactions, social relationship with students, and sexual relationships with students and other faculty. The findings were rather telling and provide a clearer picture about the role that ethics play in the university teaching environment. Of the 63 different behaviors studied, 10 of them proved to be noticeably controversial from an ethics point of view, so those are particularly worthy of reflection. The authors also summarized the results in a table format that help enable an educated and informed discussion.

This issue is not new. The reality is that numerous studies and publications in recent years have been commissioned specifically to examine the ethics and conduct of service providing psychologists that work in an academic setting. It is interesting to note that there are various ethical dilemmas that face psychologists who teach in an academic institution as compared to those who work strictly in a non-educational environment. It is important, for example, to consider the supervision or treatments of students as researchers or research participants, and it is equally important to discuss issues of sexual harassment of both students and individuals that the psychologist or educator ends up supervising in the course of their daily work. These are ethical grey areas that are not often thought about, yet are unique to this particular role that many psychologists perform. There are certain professional and ethical obligations that psychologists must observe, even within the classroom. At the same time, there are conflicting expectations when it comes to teaching that may not exist in the psychology profession as a whole. It is at the points of convergence that much of the controversy over ethics in teaching exist. Similar to the APA, university professors do have a ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses the role of ethics in the classroom.