Educators in fields of psychology must be mindful of proper ethics in the classroom, just as a clinical psychologist upholds ethical principles while practicing psychology. To this end, the APA Code of Ethics serves as the foundation from which all ethical decisions are made and Section 7 of the code details specific guidelines to maintain in the classroom.
The first principle of the APA code is to do no harm (American Psychologial Association, 2018). In a classroom setting, this means that an educator must be aware of potential impacts as a result of the classroom process. Lectures, for example, often present opinions in addition to factual materials. Care must be maintained to ensure that in addition to their own ethical behavior in class, students need to be encouraged to remain ethical as well. To this end, teachers need to set the tone for ethics in their classroom and to ensure accuracy of information which is presented as is outline in section 7.03 of the APA code (American Psychologial Association, 2018). The tone of the class is set by clearly setting the behavior expectations from day one. To be most effective, standards should be in writing (Prohaska, 2013) and should stress how important it is to maintain ethical standards not only in relation to the material, but in classroom operations as well.
Plagiarism is a common issue in the classroom, and is a blatant violation of APA ethics standards (American Psychologial Association, 2018). Teachers need to not only define plagiarism, but they must also take proactive steps to avoid it from occurring. These steps may be as simple as separating students when taking tests, restricting students from leaving the classroom during exams, prohibiting the use of electronic devices, and so on. Tools such as TUNITIN, a plagiarism monitoring tool, can be beneficial by helping to monitor the written works of students by comparing the originality of student work to those maintained within a database.
Above all, educators have the duty to maintain confidentiality and ensure the privacy of students’ personal information. During the course of classroom instruction, it is likely that personal details will be revealed. Educators must ensure that not only they maintain discretion, but that other students avoid violating that trust also.
The APA code is constantly evolving, and the basic tenet of the code is to protect the rights and dignity of people. Educators must commit themselves to embodying the code and prevent situations from occurring which can cloud the lines between right and wrong. By adhereing to the code, educators can ensure that their actions, and those of their students, remain ethical and just.
American Psychologial Association. (2018). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from www.apa.org: http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/
Penn State University. (2018). Ethics and Leadership. University Park, PA.
Prohaska, V. (2013, May). Encouraging Students’ Ethical Behavior. Retrieved from www.apa.org: http://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/ptn/2013/05/ethical-behavior.aspx