Code of Ethics
Authors: Harry Murray (1992 3M Fellow) Eileen Gillese (1986 3M Fellow) Madeline Lennon (1990 3M Fellow) Paul Mercer (1994 3M Fellow) Marilyn Robinson (1993 3M Fellow)PREAMBLE The purpose of this document is to provide a set of basic ethical principles that define the professional responsibilities of university professors in their role as teachers. Ethical principles are conceptualized here as general guidelines, ideals, or expectations that need to be taken into account, along with other relevant conditions and circumstances, in the design and analysis of university teaching. The intent of this document is not to provide a list of ironclad rules, or a systematic code of conduct, along with prescribed penalties for infractions, that will automatically apply in all situations and govern all eventualities. Similarly, the intent is not to contradict the concept of academic freedom, but rather to describe ways in which academic freedom can be exercised in a responsible manner. Finally, the present document is intended only as a first approximation, or as `food for thought', not necessarily as a final product that is ready for adoption in the absence of discussion and consideration of local needs. Ethical Principles in University Teaching was developed by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and is endorsed by the winners of the national 3M teaching award whose names appear on the cover page. The document was created by individuals actively involved in university teaching, and will be distributed to university professors across Canada with the support of 3M Canada. The Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) believes that implementation of an ethical code similar to that described herein will be advantageous to university teachers (e.g., in removing ambiguity concerning teaching responsibilities); and will contribute significantly to improvement of teaching. For these reasons, STLHE recommends that the document be discussed thoroughly at Canadian universities, with input from professors, students, and administrators, and that universities consider adopting or implementing ethical principles of teaching similar to those described in this document. PRINCIPLE 1: CONTENT COMPETENCE A university teacher maintains a high level of subject matter knowledge and ensures that course content is current, accurate, representative, and appropriate to the position of the course within the student's program of studies. PRINCIPLE 2: PEDAGOGICAL COMPETENCE A pedagogically competent teacher communicates the objectives of the course to students, is aware of alternative instructional methods or strategies, and selects methods of instruction that, according to research evidence (including personal or self-reflective research), are effective in helping students to achieve the course objectives. PRINCIPLE 3: DEALING WITH SENSITIVE TOPICS Topics that students are likely to find sensitive or discomforting are dealt with in an open, honest, and positive way. PRINCIPLE 4: STUDENT DEVELOPMENT The overriding responsibility of the teacher is to contribute to the intellectual development of the student, at least in the context of the teacher's own area of expertise, and to avoid actions such as exploitation and discrimination that detract from student development. PRINCIPLE 5: DUAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTS To avoid conflict of interest, a teacher does not enter into dual-role relationships with students that are likely to detract from student development or lead to actual or perceived favouritism on the part of the teacher. PRINCIPLE 6: CONFIDENTIALITY Student grades, attendance records, and private communications are treated as confidential materials, and are released only with student consent, or for legitimate academic purposes, or if there are reasonable grounds for believing that releasing such information will be beneficial to the student or will prevent harm to others. PRINCIPLE 7: RESPECT FOR COLLEAGUES A university teacher respects the dignity of her or his colleagues and works cooperatively with colleagues in the interest of fostering student development. PRINCIPLE 8: VALID ASSESSMENT OF STUDENTS Given the importance of assessment of student performance in university teaching and in students' lives and careers, instructors are responsible for taking adequate steps to ensure that assessment of students is valid, open, fair, and congruent with course objectives. PRINCIPLE 9: RESPECT FOR INSTITUTION In the interests of student development, a university teacher is aware of and respects the educational goals, policies, and standards of the institution in which he or she teaches. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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