Educators’ Responsibilities under the APA Code of Ethics

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.

Works Cited

American Psychologial Association. (2018). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from

Penn State University. (2018). Ethics and Leadership. University Park, PA.

Prohaska, V. (2013, May). Encouraging Students’ Ethical Behavior. Retrieved from









One Comment

  1. Julie Polanski February 25, 2018 at 11:41 PM #

    Hi Robert,
    Education is such a critical topic. There is responsibility on both sides of the equation, teacher and student. From the side of the student, there are many areas that apply to the Canadian Psychological Association code of ethics. For starters, they are responsible to “not knowingly participate in, condone, or be associated with dishonesty, fraud, misappropriation, or misrepresentation” (CPA, 2000). Additionally, they should “maintain competence in their desired area of psychological competence” (CPA, 2000). That is the whole point of learning, isn’t it? To further our knowledge and know as much as possible.
    On the side of the educator, naturally there is a lot to think about. They are expected to “protect and promote the well-being and best interests of […] students” (CPA, 2000). On top of that, they should “keep themselves up to date with a broad range of relative knowledge” (CPA, 2000).
    For both of the parties, there is a good amount of responsibility, potential consequences, and proactive management. As is a partial reason for the code of ethics, the more we can learn from past experiences to help plan a better future, the more likely we are to have a successful education system.

    Canadian Psychological Association. (2000). CPA code of ethics for psychologists. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar